Apple denies helping NSA - Politico

Apple on Tuesday strongly denied knowledge of an alleged National Security Agency program that allows the government to penetrate and spy on iPhones.


“Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products,” the company said in a statement.


Apple’s denial follows a string of reports in Der Spiegel about the NSA’s highly classified hacking arm, called Tailored Access Operations. That unit has worked, according to the German magazine, to exploit weaknesses in Microsoft’s Windows, Cisco’s routers and Apple’s iPhones — the latter through a program codenamed DROPOUTJEEP, which may have allowed the NSA to tap into older versions of the device’s operating system. Separately, a security researcher this week raised questions that Apple may have assisted the NSA.


(PHOTOS: 15 great quotes on NSA spying)


Apple, however, flatly rejected speculation it helped the feds build a backdoor — and pledged it hadn’t compromised iPhone owners’ privacy.


“Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers,” the company said in its statement. “We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.”


Leaks from Edward Snowden detailing the scope of NSA surveillance have created problems for leading U.S. technology companies, which fear the revelations could erode public trust in their products and services and result in new market barriers in Europe and other regions. Tech giants including Apple have pressed the U.S. government for the ability to disclose more information about government surveillance requests in a bid to demonstrate they’re not willingly handing over consumer data to Washington. And some tech companies have recently begun calling for broad limits on how much information the NSA can collect.


Apple CEO Tim Cook and top executives from Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other tech companies met with President Barack Obama at the White House earlier this month to discuss the effects of U.S. surveillance.






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Leaked Documents Show NSA Could Tap iPhones, Apple Denies Involvement - ABC News

PHOTO: The logo of the National Security Agency is displayed on an iPhone in Berlin, June 7, 2013.




Newly leaked documents from the National Security Agency highlight Dropout Jeep, a piece of software that could target one of the country's most popular devices -- the iPhone.


According to documents published by the German news website Spiegel Online and dated Oct. 1, 2008, Dropout Jeep would give the NSA the ability to retrieve contact information, read through text messages, listen to voicemails and even turn on the iPhone camera and microphone.


The document goes on to say that while Drop Jeep was currently limited to installation through "close access methods," the NSA would research ways to install the program remotely in future versions.


Security researcher Jacob Appelbaum presented the documents at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany. In addition to talking about Drop Jeep, he mentioned other leaked documents that highlighted other NSA spyware, and said that every attempt to implant such spyware on iOS devices would always succeed.





Apple denies any involvement in the spyware program.


"Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including the iPhone," said the company in a statement to ABC News. "We care deeply about our customers' privacy and security. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple's industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers."


Many of these documents date back to 2008, when the iPhone 3G was the newest smartphone available, so it's not clear whether Dropout Jeep could affect modern phones.


Billy Lau, a security researcher at Georgia Tech, said that while Apple has beefed up its security since 2008, it's not invulnerable.


"The Evasion jailbreak of iOS 7 implies that part of the OS has been exploited and has some deep security implications," he told ABC News.


Bradley Shear, a lawyer who specializes in Internet privacy, said that the NSA spyware may be out of Apple's control, as well as out of other companies' control such as Google and Microsoft.


"I don't think any of the tech companies would knowingly allow [for NSA tapping]," he said. "But the NSA has a know-how to do things the tech community may not be aware of."








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Apple says never worked with NSA on iPhone hacks - Reuters

People check out several versions of the new iPhone 5C after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam



People check out several versions of the new iPhone 5C after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013.


Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam







(Reuters) - Apple Inc has never worked with the U.S. National Security Agency and is unaware of efforts to target its smartphones, the company said in response to reports that the spy agency had developed a system to hack into and monitor iPhones.



Germany's Der Spiegel reported this week that a secretive unit of the NSA, which is under fire for the extent and depth of its spying programs around the world, makes specialized gear and software to infiltrate and monitor a plethora of computing devices, including mobile phones.



(here)



The report included an NSA graphic dated 2008 that outlined a system in development called DROPOUTJEEP, described as a "software implant" that allows infiltrators to push and pull and retrieve data from iPhones such as contact lists. Der Spiegel referred to it as a "trojan," or malware that helps hackers get into protected systems.



The report, which surfaced on Sunday, did not suggest that Apple had cooperated with the U.S. spying agency on so-called backdoors.



In a statement issued Tuesday, the NSA did not comment on any specific allegations but said that its interest "in any given technology is driven by the use of that technology by foreign intelligence targets."



"The United States pursues its intelligence mission with care to ensure that innocent users of those same technologies are not affected," the agency added.



The iPhone was a relatively innovative gadget in 2008. It hit the market in 2007 and proceeded to help revolutionize the mobile phone industry.



"Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products," the company said in a statement.



"We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who's behind them."



(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)






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Apple denies any knowledge of NSA hacking its iPhones - San Jose Mercury News


FILE - This June 6, 2013, file photo shows a sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md.

FILE - This June 6, 2013, file photo shows a sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)





In the latest instance of a Silicon Valley tech company being drawn into the shadowy activities of the National Security Agency, Apple (AAPL) on Tuesday denied any involvement in the spy agency's alleged efforts to hack into and monitor iPhones.


Responding to a report by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine this week that the NSA was able to use a program called "DROPOUT JEEP" to infiltrate a number of computing devices, including the iPhone, Apple has joined other tech giants like Google (GOOG) and Cisco (CSCO) in insisting it never worked with the agency and was unaware of efforts to target its products.


The Der Speigel report included a leaked NSA graphic from 2008 that laid out the program being developed, referring to it as a "software implant" that allows infiltrators to retrieve data from iPhones such as contact lists and to even turn on and use the device's microphone and camera. It's unclear where Der Spiegel obtained the information, although the magazine has worked in the past with NSA leaker Edward Snowden.


The report comes at a sensitive time for Apple, which earlier this month announced a deal to sell iPhones on China Mobile's network, giving the Cupertino tech giant a significant presence in the world's largest mobile market. China Mobile has more than 700 million customers, and any suggestion that the iPhone could be vulnerable to U.S. government break-ins could present huge problems for Apple.


According to the leaked documents, shared publicly by Der Spiegel and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, the NSA's program lets the agency do a wide range of things on someone's iPhone, including reading text messages and personal contacts. The NSA, says the report, claims a 100 percent success rate when it comes to implanting iOS devices with spyware.


"Either [the NSA] have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce, and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves," Appelbaum said at the Chaos Communication Conference in Hamburg, Germany.


Apple vigorously denied any involvement, saying it "has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone."


Some news reports pointed out that the NSA graphic was dated, and said the information suggested that installation of malware to gain access to an iPhone could be done only if the NSA had possession of the phone. The report said the NSA was working on a way to implant the software using a remote method, but it's unclear how much progress the agency has made on that front.


Apple said it will "continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who's behind them."


Analyst Carolina Milanesi with Kantar Worldpanel said that while she believes Apple's assertion that the company had no knowledge of the NSA's activities, the tech company now joins others that have been caught up in the spy agency's shadows.


"If Apple hadn't commented on the report at all, that would have been different," said Milanesi. "But they've denied it, and I take their word for it. The bigger concern is that many other tech companies will continue to be swept up into this going forward."


Not everyone thinks the latest revelations mean Apple is necessarily doomed in China. Laurence Balter, an analyst at Oracle (ORCL) Investment Research, said that while any backdoor hacking of the iPhone would pose a very real security risk, this week's news should be taken in the proper context.


"There are much easier platforms to hack into, like Android, so this is a nonissue for most smartphone users in China," said Balter. "I don't think this report will hurt sales of iPhones in China at all. If anything, this could make consumers wonder about buying the cheaper phones or phones from companies with less integrity, where their information may be less secure."


The report also says Cisco, the San Jose computer-networking company, may have had its products compromised by the spy agency's activities. "We are deeply concerned with anything that may impact the integrity of our products or our customers' networks and continue to seek additional information," Cisco's Chief Security Officer John Stewart said in a blog post.


Cisco CEO John Chambers recently said that while security concerns are not the primary cause of the company's slowing sales worldwide, it is a concern in some regions where Cisco does business.


"I do not think (privacy) is the major factor across all emerging markets," Chambers said. "I do think it is a factor, however, in China."


Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689 or follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc.







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Apple insists it did not work with NSA to create iPhone backdoor program - The Guardian

Apple has denied any knowledge of a National Security Agency tool to hack into iPhones after newly-released documents showed the tech giant’s bestselling phone was targeted by the spying agency.


Documents released Monday showed the NSA had worked on software that would allow it to remotely retrieve virtually all the information on an iPhone including text messages, photos, contacts, location, voice mail and live calls.


The software, DropoutJeep, was first disclosed by Der Spiegel and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum. The NSA slides are dated 2008, a year after the first iPhone was launched.


In a statement, Apple said: “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a back door in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements.


“Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.”


According to the slides, DropoutJeep required “close access methods” in order to be installed on an iPhone, meaning NSA agents would need physical access to the device. However, the slide notes: “A remote installation capability will be pursued for future use.”


The slides mention iOS5, an iPhone operating system that was launched in June 2011 and updated by iOS6 in September 2012. It is not clear whether the NSA managed to develop the ability to perform remote installation. Given that Apple sold 250m iPhones in its first five years, large scale implementation of DropoutJeep seems unlikely by close access methods.


The spyware is one of the tools employed by the NSA's ANT (Advanced or Access Network Technology) division to gain backdoor access to various electronic devices. According to Applebaum, the NSA claims a 100% success rate on installation of the program.


Apple, along with its peers, has consistently denied working with the NSA unless it has been legally compelled to do so. The NSA documents, first obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden, have revealed that the NSA has developed the capability to hack other companies, including Google and Yahoo, without their knowledge.


The slide is dated four years before the NSA included Apple in its Prism monitoring program. Apple was the last of the big tech companies to be included in the program, designed to ease data collection for the NSA. Microsoft, by contrast, joined the scheme in 2007, according to the NSA’s slides.






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'Jailbreaking' Apple devices is becoming a hot underground industry - Washington Post

Apple Denies Working with NSA on iPhone Backdoor - Wall Street Journal

Updated Dec. 31, 2013 2:38 p.m. ET



Apple Inc. AAPL +0.92% Apple Inc. U.S.: Nasdaq $559.60 +5.08 +0.92% Dec. 31, 2013 3:21 pm Volume (Delayed 15m) : 6.06M P/E Ratio 14.02 Market Cap $494.94 Billion Dividend Yield 2.18% Rev. per Employee $2,127,850 12/31/13 Apple Denies Working with NSA ... 12/31/13 Apple Denies Working with NSA ... 12/31/13 Candid Jurists Speak Out; Appl... More quote details and news » said it never worked with the National Security Agency to create a backdoor way for the organization to spy on iPhone users and it was unaware of any program to target its products.


The company issued a statement Tuesday in response to a leaked document alleging that the NSA had targeted Apple's iPhones in a spyware program called "DROPOUTJEEP" in 2008. The document said once the software was installed on an iPhone, it had the ability to access the device's data, activate the phone's microphone or camera, intercept text messages or narrow down a user's location using cell towers.


"Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone," the company said in a statement. "Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers' privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements."


The leaked document was dated October 2008, implying that these methods were for older devices running older versions of Apple's iOS operating system. A person familiar with the matter said Apple doesn't believe that such spyware has attacked its latest hardware--from iPhone 5 and beyond—or software including its iOS 7 operating system.


The document relating to Apple was part of a larger cache detailing ways the NSA can gain access to equipment made by Cisco Systems Inc., Juniper Networks Inc., and others.


The Wall Street Journal reported in August that U.S. and foreign law-enforcement agencies used software to turn Internet-connected devices, such as laptops and smartphones, into digital eavesdropping posts. Such programs often are created and installed without the device manufacturer's knowledge.


In a statement Tuesday, the NSA said that, because it uses commercial technology made by U.S. companies, "the U.S. Government is as concerned as the public is with the security of these products. While we cannot comment on specific, alleged intelligence-gathering activities, NSA's interest in any given technology is driven by the use of that technology by foreign intelligence targets. The United States pursues its intelligence mission with care to ensure that innocent users of those same technologies are not affected."


-Danny Yadron contributed to this article.


Write to Daisuke Wakabayashi at Daisuke.Wakabayashi@wsj.com







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The Apple store of pot - CNET


So imagine this with a marijuana leaf instead of an Apple.


(Credit: Apple)

Let's say you were going to get into pot.


No, not for medicinal reasons. For money, for business, to secure your family's future and all that.


Suddenly, the state where you live decides that pot is quite an acceptable business proposition. So you decide to create a dispensary to attract the troubled, the monied and the naturally pot-headed.


What should your dispensary look like? Should it have large leaves on the walls and be called Pot Jungle? How about placing random beige towels and armchairs about the place and calling it Pot Barn?


Andy Williams, a 45-year-old former industrial engineer is thinking different. He is modeling his new, two-story pot dispensary on the Apple store.


"It's going to be all white and beautiful," he told the Associated Press.


All things white and beautiful will undoubtedly attract all creatures great and small. This is something Apple has proved over the years.


So Williams intends to ensure that his 40,000 square feet of space will be an airy invitation to bathe in everything about marijuana.



More Technically Incorrect



Yes, happy shoppers seeking to be even more happy will be able to wander round this pristine space and watch drying buds (for the mouth, rather than the ears) and genius pot trimmers.


Legal recreational pot sales begin on New Year's Day in Colorado and Williams speaks with all the passion of Steve Jobs.


"We are building an impressive showcase for the world, to show them this is an industry," he told the AP.


He's been involved in the pot business since 2009. He and his brother talked friends and relatives into lending them $630,000 to open something called Medicine Man.


He must, therefore, be quite a salesman. Now his wildest dreams are being realized in the cold light of a Colorado day.


Of course, one hopes that his new dispensary doesn't look too much like an Apple store, as the company's legendarily muscular lawyers will arrive forthwith and begin examining his staircases, tables and even the shade of white on his walls.


I can see the movie in a few years' time. It will be called "Williams." Andy Williams will be played by a still young-looking Ashton Kutcher. It will examine the dark days when he feared that he would be arrested and never see his family again.


It will end on a high.






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Apple won't cooperate with antitrust probe, lawyer charges - CNET

Apple has proven itself a pain in the neck for a court-appointed monitor, at least according to a legal document filed on Monday.


In October, a US judge asked former Assistant US Attorney and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich to keep tabs on Apple following a ruling that charged the company with conspiring with other publishers to set e-book prices.


Just one month after the investigation started, Apple and Bromwich were already at odds with each other. Apple cited the attorney's fees as excessive, while Bromwich complained that his requests to meet with key Apple people were largely being ignored.


Now Bromwich has laid out his full list of grievances against Apple in a court filing dubbed the "Bromwich Declaration."


In the document, the attorney charged that responses to requested meetings with Apple personnel have been limited. Since October, Bromwich said, his team has been given access to only one board member and one senior executive. Further, 7 of the 11 people allowed to speak to the team were lawyers rather then business employees.


The interviews themselves have not taken place at Apple's corporate HQ in Cupertino, Calif., but instead in a "remote location several miles away in Sunnyvale, Calif.," Bromwich added.


"This is far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted," the attorney said.


Bromwich also complained that his team has so far received only a small number of all the documents requested and promised.


"We have been provided, a month after we were told that all the materials would be produced promptly, only 303 pages of documents, which constitutes an incomplete response to the requests we made on October 22," he said."'


Kyle Andeer, Apple's director of competition law, may have provided some reasoning behind Apple's apparent reticence to fully cooperate, according to Bromwich's filing. Andeer told Bromwich that Apple was very concerned about the requests to speak with board members and senior executives as they were very busy, according to Bromwich. But he also said that "we would see a lot of anger about the case that still existed within the company," according to Bromwich.


In his filing, Bromwich also contrasted Apple's behavior with those of past companies that he was appointed to monitor.


"In my 20 years of doing oversight work, I have never before had the entity over which I was exercising oversight unilaterally dictate who could be interviewed, even in those instances in which I have dealt with very sensitive matters, including highly classified matters of national security," Bromwich said.






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tech: Apple - Mac



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Three Reasons Apple Should Outperform The Market In 2014 - Forbes


iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S (Photo credit: Janitors)




Tim Cook gets paid more if Apple stock outperforms the S&P 500 index in 2014. His compensation is structured in a way that pays him more when his efforts reward shareholders. What’s not for investors to love about a CEO like that?


Given his compensation structure, Tim Cook probably feels pretty good about the way 2014 is shaping up. His company’s stock is undervalued right now, demand for its wares is strong and its biggest competitors are running scared.


Apple’s stock ended the year with a price-to-earnings ratio of around 14. That’s about 20% below the historical average for an S&P 500 stock. Investors are paying well above the historical average for the majority of S&P 500 stocks. If Apple were valued by investors in the same way they value most large company stocks, the company would have traded about $100 higher to close out 2013. The only rationale for the stock price to be so low would be that investors see bleaker times ahead for the company. But year-end data would suggest that any such sentiment is likely unjustified.


A quick check on the availability of Apple’s iPad Mini shows that the company can’t keep up with the demand for this product in any zip code whether its Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, St. Louis or Atlanta. This product has more customers waiting for it than there will be in the lines at Chik-Fil-A on Phil Robertson appreciation day. Phones and tablets are a lot less expensive to build, ship and support than larger, bulkier desktop or even laptop computers.


The second reason to expect Apple to outperform other companies is that this company has shown it can single-handedly accomplish what a collection of other companies cannot, and still leave customers asking for more. Tablet computing is not a reversible trend and Apple shows that it can continue to tap pent-up customer demand better than any other supplier out there.


A third reason to expect that Apple has it right is that its competition has it all wrong. The single biggest indicator of that is Steve Ballmer’s abrupt announcement last summer that he would be stepping down in the coming year as CEO of Microsoft. The continuing struggles that company is manifesting on two fronts: selling surface tablets and finding a new CEO. Perhaps many don’t realize what kind of a message Microsoft has sent by creating the continuing ill-will and service headaches associated with the release of Windows 8. This operating system had the lowest adoption rate of any such offering in the company’s history and the greatest number of consumer complaints.


The primary issue was that the interface was optimized for the tablet even though most of its users are not using touch-sensitive devices. But Microsoft has no plans to reverse this discomfort—even if the reintroduction of the start button in the Windows 8.1 update appeared to alleviate end-user pain a bit. The fact is the company wouldn’t dare back away from delivering single-platform programmability to its developer community now–not when Surface tablet sales appear to be picking up a bit. They know the realities of personal computing even if a few activist investors do not: Apple had it right to begin with.


Perhaps that is why the weekly price chart for AAPL currently shows a new upward trend based on the 50-week moving average (see chart below). If this trend continues, a twenty percent increase in the stock price over the next year would not be a stretch of the imagination.


Weekly Chart of AAPL

Weekly Chart of AAPL








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Apple's Mac Pro fairly easy to repair, says iFixit - CNET

An inside look at the new Mac Pro.

An inside look at the new Mac Pro.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Yearning to take apart your new $3,000 Mac Pro? The journey through its innards shouldn't be too taxing, according to a teardown from the folks at iFixit.


Hiking and hacking through the interior of the entry-level late 2013 Mac Pro, iFixit found its design closer to that of an aluminum soda can than a trash can, to which it's been ignominiously compared. Opening the cylindrical casing requires but a snap of the lock switch, thereby exposing the first layer of cards and components.


The RAM modules are easily accessible and replaceable, says iFixit, so users can max out the memory to 64GB without too much sweat. Removing the solid-state drive entails just a turn of a screwdriver, revealing the flash storage and flash controller. But coaxing off the data connectors for the graphics card pulls iFixit's special spudger tool into duty.


The dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards are held in place by a clamp and four screws. However, the iFixit team believes that "the proprietary nature and lack of an elegant external GPU (graphics processing unit) option may age this device before its time."


Diving deeper, iFixit discovers that the logic board, the dual graphics cards, and the I/O port board all connect to a single disc-shaped daughterboard. Placed between the logic board and I/O board, the power supply proves a bit tough to remove but comes off with help from a Torx screwdriver. Finally, users who want to upgrade from the entry-level processor can dig through the components to swap out the CPU.


Despite a few small obstacles, the quest to take apart the new Mac Pro proves relatively carefree. The computer's design is "surprisingly modular and easy to disassemble," according to iFixit. But the site does have one bit of advice: "With some proprietary new connectors and tight cable routing, working on this $3,000 device without a repair manual could be risky."


The final grade? 8 out of 10 on the repairability scale (10 being the easiest to repair).






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How Home Depot Copied Apple to Build an Ingenious New Bucket - Wired



Home Depot’s new Big Gripper all-purpose bucket is a handy improvement on the old school, five-gallon contractor pail. An ergonomic handle and patent pending “pocket grip” on the underside sets the product apart on the shelf, but more importantly, the design is a showpiece for a new approach to big box merchandising. Brick-and-mortar retailers have learned a lesson from Apple and are following their vertically integrated approach by developing high-quality, and exclusive, products to remain competitive in the age of Amazon. And they’re learning from another Apple trademark: revisiting product categories filled with bad offerings, and completely rethinking them.


The clever container was developed in textbook fashion by Herbst Produkt, an award-winning firm with a client list that includes Clorox and Facebook. Like a good user-centered designer, founder Scot Herbst started the project by observing customers in their natural habitats and recording their difficulties using similar products. “We found this particularly true in the female demographic — someone would load a garden bucket with soil and have a hell of a time lifting and maneuvering the ungainly mass,” says Herbst.



With this insight in hand, Herbst rearranged the elements of the bucket to create an asymmetrical, yet better balanced product. “The best part about these little innovations is they didn’t add any cost to the product,” he says. “They’re cost-neutral features that are achieved without adding material or complex tooling.” You can’t argue with free, but the importance of this design rests less in its features and more why it was developed in the first place.


Products like the bucket sell by the millions, but haven’t been improved in decades.

It might be hard to believe, but when the Home Depot was founded in 1978, it was hugely innovative. Floor to ceiling stacks of oriented strand board might lack the panache of 3-D printing, yet both developments had similar effects. Prior to the arrival of these walk-in warehouses, weekend warriors were left with whatever limited selection their local hardware store carried. For two decades, Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus made it his mission to make exotic tools and hard-to-find building materials available to anyone with a pick-up truck.


In 2000, Marcus retired and brought on Bob Nardelli as CEO. Nardelli had been one of Jack Welch’s hatchet men at GE, and he spent the next seven years driving down costs—at the expense of Home Depot’s reputation for innovation. “From what I understand, it had a brutal cost-cutting culture that stymied product innovation,” says Herbst.


At the same time, Amazon and other online tool sellers were beating physical retailers at the price game. Shipping bags of concrete was cost prohibitive, but online sales of hyper-profitable, high-ticket power tools boomed. “If the game is played solely on a price-cutting platform, you will inevitably run out of margin to support new innovation,” says Herbst. “What the consumer doesn’t appreciate is that innovation costs money—R&D, prototyping, design, engineering, IP—all of these activities require an investment.”


Marcus forced Nardelli out in 2007 and brought in a Home Depot veteran to right the ship by returning the focus to developing and selling innovative products, exclusive to Home Depot. The mandate came with a cool code name — Project: Whitespace — and Herbst Produkt jumped at the chance to redesign humble products like the bucket that sell by the millions, but haven’t been improved on since their introduction decades ago.


Home Depot is also taking a page from values-driven companies like Patagonia and emphasizing how their products are made in addition to how they function. The Big Gripper bucket is part of the retailer’s “Made in America” initiative, which is attempting to “reshore” manufacturing jobs, and is being produced by a family-run company outside of Boston. “Any cost premiums are balanced out by the fast lead-time to market and incredibly, ridiculously, high volumes that Home Depot can support,” says Herbst.


The Big Gripper is available at Home Depot’s website and stores across the country.







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Samsung Got A Bigger Tablet Boost For Christmas Than Apple, According To ... - TechCrunch


Touchscreen publishing company Onswipe has good news for Samsung. As Onswipe’s Chief Marketing Officer Jason Baptiste put it in an email, “Samsung clearly won Christmas when it comes to tablets.”


Specifically, the company looked at visitors to Onswipe-optimized sites for the period of Dec. 26 to Dec. 29 in comparison to Dec. 19-22, as a way to measure the growth that different tablet platforms saw over Christmas. The results? Samsung’s Galaxy tablets grew 50.4 percent, Nexus 6 tablets grew 33.8 percent, iPads grew 20.4 percent, and Kindle Fires grew 19.5 percent.


Now, the fact that Onswipe focused on percentage growth is an important caveat here. After all, Samsung was presumably starting from (much) less, so it didn’t need to sell as many tablets to see significant growth.


It’s also interesting to see the line about Samsung’s victory coming from Baptiste, who recently wrote a blog post telling people to “stop believing the fairy tales about the iPad’s demise.” I asked him if the data made him reconsider the post, and he said no: “Though they enjoyed more growth post Holidays, Samsung is still very tiny compared to the iPad and the same goes for the rest of Android. What will be interesting is seeing whether people still use Android tablets 90 days out from now.”


Baptiste also provided some numbers about usage. He said the average session time from Samsung users was 3 minutes and 9 seconds after Christmas, down from 3:32 before. On iPad, the average session was 4:03, compared to 4:12 before. And the Kindle Fire had the longest session time on average, 4:51.


As for how many people this data represents, Baptiste said Onswipe (which recently upgraded its platform) reaches 31 million unique visitors each month on the mobile web.






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Recently Opened Dutch Apple Store in Haarlem Hit by Smash-and-Grab Robbers - Mac Rumors

The recently opened Apple Retail Store located in the Dutch city of Haarlem was the site of a smash-and-grab robbery last night, reports Dutch news website NU.nl [Google Translate].

smashandgrab_haarlem1

People living in the area of the store claimed to hear a loud bang in the middle of the night, which likely represented the sound of a car hitting the front of the Apple Store. The car used to ram the Apple Store was reportedly left behind as the thieves allegedly used two scooters to escape the crime scene.


Dutch Police are actively investigating the crime scene as the store remains closed to the public, but also states that only a small amount of merchandise was stolen. Employees at the retail location will also not be permitted to identify what was stolen until police complete their analysis of the crime scene.


smashandgrab_haarlem2

With Apple gadgets fetching a high price on the secondary market, thefts of individual devices in muggings are common. However, organized robberies on Apple Retail Stores are mostly uncommon.


The Haarlem Apple Store opened on December 7 and is located roughly 20km from Apple's existing Amsterdam store. The incident also follows another smash-and-grab robbery committed at an Apple Retail Store located in Kurf├╝rstendamm, Berlin in which thieves crashed an Opel Corsa supermini automobile into the store and proceeded to steal display iPhones, iPads, and computers before fleeing in two Audis.




...located in the Netherlandic city of Haarlem (http://www.apple.com/nl/retail/haarlem/) ...




I think the word is Dutch... :P

The sooner thieves realise iOS devices are now bricks without the associated Apple ID password - the better. Also, you know Apple have the MAC address and serial nos. of all the stock in their store.

Just stupid. But I guess the kind of people who do this aren't known for their forward thinking ...



I know it's off-topic, but it feels strange when you refer to a corsa as supermini. What would you people call a Smart? ...

So this wasn't a smash-and-grab at a pie shop in Manhattan?





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The great Google, Facebook and Apple cash pile - CNBC.com

Such is the scale of this cash pile that the U.S. corporate sector must have been partly responsible for the surge in demand for safe assets and the decline in interest rates that fueled the U.S. housing bubble.


Yet American business has been spared the opprobrium heaped on excess savers such as China, whose official reserves top $3.5 trillion. There is nonetheless something fundamentally different about the U.S. corporate cash pile compared with those of, say, China and Japan, where burgeoning corporate sector savings have increasingly fueled global imbalances.


Corporate savings consist of depreciation and retained earnings. For much of the past 20 years the Chinese government has urged state-owned companies not to distribute profits, which would help push up retentions. In the absence of developed financial markets, companies are more reliant, too, on internal financing.


For its part, Japan is a mature economy in which investment opportunities are insufficient to absorb the country's domestic savings. In contrast, corporate miserliness in the U.S. is driven by the technology sector.


I calculate that the combined cash and liquid investments of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Oracle, Qualcomm and Facebook now top $340 billion, a near-fivefold increase since the start of the millennium.


What differentiates these tech companies from most of the other businesses that contributed to the American corporate cash nest egg is that they have little or no borrowings. In the case of Apple, the build-up of liquidity from $24.5 billion five years ago to $129.8 billion today would have done credit to the Sorcerer's Apprentice.


(Read more: Car tech: Not just a Google vs. Apple story)


This extraordinary penchant for saving has been antisocial in the aftermath of the financial crisis, when the world was suffering from deficient demand.


With many billions of corporate dollars pouring exclusively into money market funds and bonds, the existing fiscal and regulatory bias against equity investment in the U.S. will be given a new twist. Such behavior also leaves us with a paradox.


Why are the most successful and innovative companies on the planet acting like misers in a Balzac novel during a dramatic technological revolution that is leading to the digitization of virtually everything? How can there be inadequate investment opportunities to absorb all this money, much of which earns a negative real return?


In fact we have been here before. In the 1930s John Maynard Keynes worried that the economy was hostage to the volatile instincts of businessmen. Money's function as a store of value appeared problematic to him because it allowed entrepreneurs to retreat from investing when confronting uncertainty. And he railed at the capitalist system's reliance on "the love of money" as he put it, to drive economic growth.


(Read more: Apple board advises vote against Icahn's buyback proposal)


Today it is not individual entrepreneurs who are gloating over their cash. It is more a kind of corporate narcissism. Yet fear and uncertainty have undoubtedly played a part in causing a conspicuous acceleration in saving since the financial crisis. And in a fast-moving globalized market the flexibility that cash affords in the ultra-competitive technology sector matters.


(Read more: 2014 Playbook:Buy Facebook or Twitter?)


The precautionary motive is not the only spur to cash consciousness. Corporate governance may be a factor.


Apple, Microsoft and Google are immune from the discipline of hostile takeover. Many technology companies have a two-tier voting structure that allows founding entrepreneurs to enjoy voting control with a minority of the capital, so they are under little pressure to raise payouts – although the shareholder activist Carl Icahn hopes to squeeze more out of Apple, where he recently bought a stake.


More from the Financial Times:


Rewards await corporate America on cash

Icahn scales back Apple buyback demand

Icahn steps up push for Apple buyback


Some argue that because a majority of the cash is held outside the U.S., taxation is at the root of it. Certainly, tough U.S. tax rules on bringing money home provides an explanation of why cash is not repatriated, but surely not why it goes uninvested. The world's investment opportunities are not, after all, confined to the U.S.


The most plausible reason for this corporate thriftiness is surely that information technology, social networks and the rest are driven by human, not financial, capital. Those such as Google or LinkedIn are the very opposite of capital-intensive and the parts of the industrial process that are capital-intensive at Apple or Microsoft are substantially outsourced. This chimes with the fact that the biggest cash hoarders are large research and development spenders.


Such companies resort to the equity market chiefly to provide an exit for venture capitalists or to acquire a currency for takeovers. And they can reasonably argue that it is inappropriate for the owners of financial capital, which is especially abundant in a world of excess savings, to have all the control rights in the corporation when human capital drives growth.


With recovery, the precautionary motive is set to wane, but in this brave new world America's technology wizards will still be condemned to spew out cash that they cannot absorb in business investment. It is a novel quirk in the workings of late capitalism.






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Can Apple learn China about quality? - ZDNet

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Apple Feud Deepens With Court-Appointed Monitor - Wall Street Journal

Dec. 30, 2013 7:56 p.m. ET



A feud between Apple Inc. AAPL -0.99% Apple Inc. U.S.: Nasdaq $554.52 -5.57 -0.99% Dec. 30, 2013 4:00 pm Volume (Delayed 15m) : 8.80M AFTER HOURS $553.10 -1.42 -0.26% Dec. 30, 2013 7:59 pm Volume (Delayed 15m): 257,942 P/E Ratio 13.89 Market Cap $503.93 Billion Dividend Yield 2.20% Rev. per Employee $2,127,850 12/30/13 Apple Feud Deepens With Court-... 12/30/13 What WSJ Canada Is Reading Mon... 12/29/13 Google, Apple Forge Auto Ties More quote details and news » and a lawyer appointed by a federal court judge to monitor the company's e-book pricing reform became even more acrimonious Monday.


Michael Bromwich, the lawyer picked as Apple's monitor, said in court documents filed Monday that Apple's characterization of his team's activities as a "roving investigation" in fact "bear no relation whatsoever to the activities we have attempted to conduct."


In an 11-page document accompanied by hundreds of pages of emails, Mr. Bromwich described repeated alleged efforts by Apple to block interviews between him and senior executives, as well as the company's failure to turn over relevant documents.


A lawyer for Apple declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bromwich declined to comment.


Apple and Mr. Bromwich have been at loggerheads for months. In November, Apple said Mr. Bromwich, a partner at Goodwin Procter LLP and a former inspector general at the Justice Department, had stepped beyond the scope of his appointment by "operating in an unfettered and inappropriate manner" and was overcharging the company, citing a $138,432.40 for his first two weeks of work.


In December, Apple asked Manhattan U.S. District Judge Denise Cote to halt Mr. Bromwich's oversight of the company pending the company's appeal of Judge Cote's antitrust judgment against the company. Judge Cote ruled in July that Apple colluded with five major U.S. publishers to drive up the prices of e-books, a verdict Apple has said it planned to appeal.


The Justice Department, which reviewed Mr. Bromwich's proposal for the monitoring position, said in court papers filed in December that halting Mr. Bromwich's work would go against the "public's interested in preventing further antitrust violations by Apple."


On Monday, Mr. Bromwich said he routinely met with top management at the three organizations he previously monitored and had "never before had a request for a meeting or interview in a monitoring assignment rejected or even deferred."


"This is far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted," Mr. Bromwich said.


According to the emails filed by Mr. Bromwich, his relationship with Apple was rocky from the start. After Mr. Bromwich sent Kyle Andeer, Apple's director of competition law, an email detailing his rates and the contours of his oversight, the wide gaps between the two party's expectations came into focus.


"Thanks very much for your response to my cover note and our draft letter," Mr. Bromwich wrote to Mr. Andeer on Oct. 26. "Unfortunately, I think you may have misconceived its purpose. It was not to begin a negotiation about fees, rates, and expenses, nor was it meant to provide you with an opportunity to provide us with guidelines…"


"I am disappointed by your position on rates and other fees," Mr. Andeer responded on Oct. 28. "They do not reflect market realities."


Write to Christopher M. Matthews at christopher.matthews@wsj.com







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Why Is Apple Hoarding So Much Cash? - Bloomberg


To oppose the measure.


We will break down the developments with adam and jon erlichman.


I thought it was really interesting they did not seem to fight the proposal at all and really want to put it out there in front of the shareholders.


They are embracing the spirit yes.


They are allowing it to come to a vote and then saying, here it is and please vote against it.


Apple posses argument is they already have a large share buyback and dividend and they are exploring other options that they anticipate making some sort of announcement in the new year.


The same wait and see and not to go with icons planned, which involves taking on new debt and things that they do not want to do.


When we look at the proposal, the call for apple to spend their cash have gone on for years and years.


Do you think they're thinking, look, fine, vote on it and let's put this to rest?


Yes, i think they are comfortable with it.


Apple has the problem a lot of companies which they had.


They generate a lot of cash.


Cash from operations less year, if you go back to the beginning of this year, when apple had its annual meeting, they were very comfortable to have a conversation about the best uses of their capital.


At the time back in february of this year, the activist investor, at the center of everything, was david einhorn.


Now we are gearing up for this meeting where the focus will be another activist investor.


If you go buy some of the language from some of the other investors, we heard from one of the most influential investors in the country, an apple shareholder, which described as a johnny-come-lately, they are totally fine to put in front of shareholders and probably feel they will get a lot of support for long-term investors.


Is there a suggestion they might come up with another plan to put the cash in use?


It is possible.


They certainly have a lot of cash and they continue to generate a town with sales of the iphone and ipad.


They had the opportunity to do that.


Apple went from having no cash return policy to having what is now one of the biggest ones in corporate america.


I think that is why what john is saying is correct.


They have the support of investors who, for a long time, had been pushing them to do something.


Now, what they have been doing, the $100 billion plan that is supposed to roll out over the next several years, that is not pocket change.


It is a lot of money.


Even to a guy like me.


I also wonder, some of the analyst notes are suggesting they would come out with yet another plan to put more of the cash to use.


You wonder, the scars of apple posses near-death experience from over a decade ago, still linger over the company.


That is absolutely -- it absolutely could be the case.


At the same time, we know that even if they are developing a television, a smart watch, and countless other things that make him out over the next couple of years, they would not need all of this cash to go down those roads.


They can still do it.


I think what is interesting is you have got to take the financial picture, the timing of a meeting like this, and put it all together.


A lot of people have told this story over the last week about apple posses stock performance this year versus the rest of the market, disappointing, perhaps, to some, and yet i was looking at the stock performance since the annual meeting last year, and the shares have rallied about 25% since that meeting into the end of the year.


There may be a different tone




This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.







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What's Next for Apple in 2014: iWatch, Larger iPhone 6, 12.9-inch iPad Pro - Mac Rumors

Over the course of 2013, Apple released a number of exciting new products, including the radically redesigned Mac Pro, a thinner and lighter iPad Air, and an iPhone with cutting edge fingerprint recognition technology.

2014 will likely bring even more innovation to Apple's product lineup, with current rumors hinting at highly anticipated products like the Apple smart watch, a larger iPhone and iPad, and new developments with the Apple TV. A number of these products have been rumored for some time, but the spate of Apple product releases over the past few months and the imminent turning of the calendar offers a chance to bring those rumors back to the forefront.


According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple has plans to create "great products" in areas the company does not participate in today, and in a recent email, Cook told Apple employees that there's a lot in store for Apple in 2014, "including some big plans that we think customers are going to love."


In the list below, we've highlighted Apple's prospective 2014 product plans, outlining what customers might see from Apple in the next 12 months based on current rumors.


iPhone 6

Apple's next iPhone is rumored to come equipped with a larger screen size, somewhere between 4.7 and 5.7 inches. Some rumors have suggested that Apple might release the phone in two separate sizes, both of which are larger than the current 4-inch iPhone 5s/5c.


arment_iphone_plus_galaxy


Left to right: iPhone 5, Galaxy S III, "iPhone Plus", Galaxy Note II (Source: Marco Arment)



The larger iPhone, which will likely incorporate a faster 20-nanometer A8 chip from TSMC, may also include sweeping design changes in the form of a curved display. While it is possible Apple will release an updated iPhone earlier in the year, the most likely release target for the larger-screened device is September or October.

Read full roundup for iPhone 6


iPad Pro

Along with a larger iPhone, Apple may be planning to add a larger iPad to its current tablet lineup, which comprises the 9.7-inch iPad Air and the 7.9-inch iPad mini. The "iPad Pro" or "iPad Maxi" as it has been called by the media, is rumored to include a larger 12.9-inch display, which would be most similar in size to the current 13.3-inch MacBook Air.


12_9_ipad_macbook_air


Mockup of the 12.9-inch iPad next to a 13-inch MacBook Air



The display reportedly offers higher pixel density nearing ultra high-definition quality and it will likely adopt many of the design elements offered in the current iPads, like an ultrathin chassis and narrow side bezels. Aside from a larger screen size, not much is known about Apple's larger iPad, and it is unclear when such a product might be released.

iWatch

Apple's much-anticipated "iWatch," which was a major rumor focal point in 2013, will likely be released in 2014. According to rumors, the smart watch will primarily function as an accessory to the iPhone and the iPad, providing at-a-glance access to common iOS functions.


The watch may also include a multitude of biometric functions, possibly offering a pedometer and heart rate monitor, among other things, and it could also serve as a home automation hub. While it is entirely unclear what the iWatch will look like, rumors have indicated that it could have an OLED display in the range of 1.3 to 1.7 inches, possibly coming in multiple sizes for a customized fit.


Apple's iWatch may incorporate an ultra durable sapphire glass screen, as the company recently signed a deal with GT Advanced to ramp up sapphire glass production. Rumors have also hinted at a flexible, curved design.


Over the course of 2013, Apple ramped up its work on the iWatch, with a team of 100 product designers working on the project. The company also filed for iWatch trademarks in multiple countries throughout 2013.


Currently, Apple's iWatch is expected to debut during the second half of 2014.


Read full roundup for iWatch


Apple Television

Apple has been long rumored to be making some upgrades to its Apple TV, either in the form of a revamped set top box with additional functionality or a full blown television set. It is unclear what Apple will do in the television arena in 2014, however, as rumors have suggested that the company has shelved its TV plans for the time being in order to focus on wearables like the iWatch. Television remains an area of "intense interest" for Apple, according to Tim Cook.


If Apple does release a television-related product in 2014, it will likely be a new set top box that could bundle key features like an App Store and Siri, along with additional content offerings.


In 2013, Apple worked hard to beef up content offerings, adding several new channels, including WatchESPN, HBO GO, Vevo, Yahoo Screen, and PBS. The company is also said to be in talks with cable provider Time Warner and a deal with that company, as well as other improvements in content, could come in 2014.


Improving content and reaching deals with various cable companies and content providers is a necessary step before Apple can make headway in the television industry.


Read full roundup for Apple TV


4K Display

Many people believed Apple would introduce a new Thunderbolt Display alongside the Mac Pro, as it has been two years since the last Thunderbolt Display update. No new display appeared, but it is possible that the company will debut a new display product in 2014, likely offering a 4K resolution of 4096 or 3840 x 2160 pixels.


In late 2013, Apple supplier AU Optronics introduced new 27 and 32-inch 4K display panels, sparking speculation that revamped Thunderbolt Displays were on the horizon, though concrete information on a new display or a possible release date is unavailable at the current point in time. In lieu of a 4K Thunderbolt Display, Apple is offering a 4K 32-inch Sharp display as an add-on to the Mac Pro.


Read full roundup for Apple Displays


Other updates: iOS 8, OS X 10.10, MacBooks, and More

As it does every year, Apple will undoubtedly offer refreshed MacBooks over the course of 2014. Recently, a rumor has suggested that a 12-inch MacBook with a MacBook Air-style design and a Retina display could make its debut in the middle of 2014, and other incremental updates to products like the Retina MacBook Pro will come as well.


Apple has several products that have not been refreshed for quite some time, including its lineup of iPods and the Mac Mini, which could see updates in 2014.


New versions of both iOS and OS X are also expected, though few details are available on the software at this time. iOS 8 may include improvements to Maps, iOS in the Car, and a possible Siri API, while the next version of OS X could take on some iOS 7-style design elements. iOS 8 will probably arrive during the fall along refreshed iPhones, and it is likely that a revamped version of OS X will come during the same general time frame.


Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPad Air, Mac mini, MacBook Air, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, iWatch


Just keep Jony away from OS X's interface please. iOS looks completely soulless now. OS X still has that "pop" that iOS had. Please don't ruin it.


while the next version of OS X could take on some iOS 7-style design elements




No. Just no.

I don't want yellow text on a white background. I don't want Calendar redesigned to look and operate like iOS.


Maybe Apple will steer iOS7 back to being more intuitive. OS X is still a great system and I'd like to see more of that put into iOS, not the other way around.




No. Just no.


I don't want yellow text on a white background. I don't want Calendar redesigned to look and operate like iOS.


Maybe Apple will steer iOS7 back to being more intuitive. OS X is still a great system and I'd like to see more of that put into iOS, not the other way around.




Same comments here. iOS 7 is a usability mess and design mistake. OS X is doing well except for all the rollover and auto-hide bugs in various UI elements. There's no way I could deal with OS X looking like iOS 7. I'm not updating my iPhone to iOS 7, and I won't update to a similarly crappy OS X. If I buy an iPad, I'll be forced to deal with iOS 7, and that's already too much. Jony Ive is clueless about GUI design.

Isn't this just a roundup of previous roundups?

DOESN'T DESERVE FRONT PAGE STATUS




I'm holding off buying a MacPro until I can buy a monitor with it so that it's also covered with AppleCare. I HAVE to buy a new monitor since I am still using a VGA CRT but I don't want to buy the current Cinema Display only to have an upgrade show up a couple of months later. BUT, if the new one costs more than $999 I'll still be stuck. Don't know what to do because my 2008 MacPro is too slow for what I do and I've upgraded everything I can already.




Same here, want a new display before getting the new Pro!:(

I'm holding off buying a MacPro until I can buy a monitor with it so that it's also covered with AppleCare. I HAVE to buy a new monitor since I am still using a VGA CRT but I don't want to buy the current Cinema Display only to have an upgrade show up a couple of months later. BUT, if the new one costs more than $999 I'll still be stuck. Don't know what to do because my 2008 MacPro is too slow for what I do and I've upgraded everything I can already.


Isn't this just a roundup of previous roundups?


DOESN'T DESERVE FRONT PAGE STATUS




I didn't know you were the one to designate what goes on the front page. I thought arn did that.

----------


hey, its this post again!


(must be a slow newsday!)




Hey it's this comment again!

My new Mac Pro is coming on Friday, Jan 3. I sure wish I had a new 4K display to use with it.

What's the use of all that graphic power without a display to go with it?


And not a $3595 sharp.


The engineering for this can't be all that complicated.


Please, please bring one out soon.




No. Just no.


I don't want yellow text on a white background. I don't want Calendar redesigned to look and operate like iOS.


Maybe Apple will steer iOS7 back to being more intuitive. OS X is still a great system and I'd like to see more of that put into iOS, not the other way around.




This.^^^

Completely agree with you here, don't want OS X to look like iOS (7).



My body is ready.

My wallet is not.







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