Ads 468x60px

Apple CEO Tim Cook ordered to give deposition in anti-poaching lawsuit

Tim-Cook-apologyApple CEO Tim Cook has been ordered by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose to give a deposition related to an ongoing private lawsuit that claims Apple, Google, and others entered "no-poach" agreements, as reported by Bloomberg. Cook isn't the only executive named in yesterday's order. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt will also be deposed on Feb. 20, as well as Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini later this month.

Koh told lawyers yesterday that Apple founder Steve Jobs was copied on e-mails at issue in the case, and that she found it "hard to believe" that Cook, as Apple's chief operating officer at the time in question, wouldn't have been consulted about such agreements.

The judge said she was disappointed that senior executives at the companies involved hadn't been deposed before yesterday's hearing over whether she should certify the case as a group lawsuit. The class would include different categories of employees whose incomes, their lawyers argue, were artificially reduced because of the collusion. Koh didn't rule on class certification.

Employees brought on the private lawsuit, but it mirrors complaints settled with the U.S. Justice Department following an initial antitrust probe in 2010. In the settlement that resulted from the 2010 probe, the Justice Department claimed the companies kept "do-not-call" lists to avoid issues of poaching, but it also said the agreements could hurt competition and employees. According to the Department, Apple and Adobe executives entered an agreement in 2005 to not  "cold-call" each other's employees. The report also claimed Apple and Google created a do-not-call list in 2006, while Apple and Pixar, as well as Google, all entered similar agreements with Intuit and Intel in 2007.

Apple Adds Credit Options for Chinese Buyers [iOS Blog]

Apple Store Sanlitun, Beijing, ChinaApple today added installment payment plans to its online store in China, giving Chinese buyers the option to purchase iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks via credit.

Consumers can choose to pay in installments on merchandise that costs between 300 yuan ($48) and 30,000 yuan ($4,800), through a plan from China Merchants Bank Co.

As Bloomberg notes, the credit option puts expensive devices like the iPad and the iPhone into the reach of Chinese workers, who often cannot afford to purchase Apple's devices.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is trying to make its products more affordable in China after being surpassed by local suppliers such as ZTE Corp. and Lenovo Group Ltd. in the smartphone market. The iPhone 5, released in China last month, is priced at 5,288 yuan on Apple's local site, equal to about six weeks' pay for the average urban worker.

"There is an enormous mid-range consumer market that they are not tapping into," said Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting Ltd., a Beijing-based market research firm. "They're trying to figure out how to make products more accessible to that market segment. This is a good step in that direction."
In the Foxconn factories where Apple's mobile devices are assembled, junior level workers make approximately 1,800 yuan per month, which means the iPad and the iPhone are nearly unattainable without an installment option

Apple is currently offering payment plans over three, six, 12, 18, and 24 months. A promotion that lasts through January 23 makes payment plans lasting a year or less interest free. Payment plans with 18 installments incur a fee of 6.5 percent of the selling price, and 24 installment plans have a fee of 8.5 percent.

Refurbished 13-Inch Retina MacBook Pro Models Appear in Apple's Online Store

Apple today added the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro to the refurbished section of its online store, giving prospective customers the opportunity to save 15% compared to brand-new machine. Currently available models include:

- 2.5 GHz Core i5 with 128 GB storage: $1439, compared to $1699 new

- 2.5 GHz Core i5 with 256 GB storage: $1699, compared to $1999 new

- 2.9 GHz Core i7 with 512 GB storage: $2289, compared to $2689 new

All three models are listed as shipping in 1-3 business days.

As with all of Apple's refurbished products, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro units have been thoroughly tested and reconditioned and carry a one-year warranty equal to that offered on brand-new machines.

The addition of the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro to Apple's refurbished store comes roughly two weeks after the appearance of 15-inch models. But with the 13-inch models having just been introduced in October, some four months after the launch of the 15-inch models, the smaller Retina MacBook Pro has made the transition to the refurbished store much more quickly than its larger sibling.

Apple Looking to Hire Writers to Enhance Siri's Witty Personality [iOS Blog]

MIT Technology Review has dug up a job ad posted by Apple on LinkedIn appealing to writers to help make Siri more conversational.
"[S]omeone who combines a love for language, wordplay, and conversation with demonstrated experience in bringing creative content to life within an intense technical environment."
The ad notes that writers who apply will also need "experience in writing character-driven dialog", a good vocabulary and, ideally, knowledge of more than one language. The goal of the hirings would be to "evolve and enrich Siri."

Siri has been known for her wit and personality, with Apple attempting to allow Siri to build emotional ties with users.
Apple focused on keeping Siri's personality "friendly and humble -- but also with an edge". According to their source, they were thinking "How would we want a person to respond?" while developing the software.
After scaling back Siri's original feature set for its initial launch through Apple, the company has been working to expand compatibility to new devices such as the iPad as well as new languages. Apple has also improved Siri in iOS 6 with new movie, sports and restaurant features, and is set to introduce movie ticket purchases through Fandango with the upcoming iOS 6.1.

Change Screen Brightness & Stop the Display Auto-Adjusting on iPhone

The iPhone and iPod touch displays have precise brightness controls, and thanks to a light sensor, they're smart enough to automatically adjust brightness depending on environmental lighting conditions. But it's not always perfect especially if you use it at night, and if you're in frequently changing lighting conditions that behavior can reduce battery life. To put an end to those auto-adjustments and to change the brightness level yourself, you can head to the iOS Settings app:

  • Open Settings and tap on "Brightness & Wallpaper"
  • Adjust the brightness slider for immediate response
  • Flip "Auto-Brightness" to OFF to have the screen stop automatically adjusting brightness

Combining the adjustment with Auto-Brightness OFF means the screen will stay at the exact level that has been set by the slider, it won't change depending on exterior lighting conditions. Similarly, setting the brightness level with the slider and keeping auto enabled makes it function as an upper limit, whereas the screen will not go brighter than what is indicated.

Change the Screen brightness on iPhone

The screen can be extremely bright which makes it possible to easily read in direct sunlight, but for most uses and for a longer battery life you'll find a setting as low as 1/3 or 1/4 is more than adequate for indoor and outdoor situations.,

This is actually a fairly decent way to keep battery life consistent, since maintaining a tolerably lower brightness level can have a significant impact on battery life of the iphone and just about all other mobile devices, and preventing the really bright upward swings will draw less power. You may want to adjust the auto-locking feature as well, which can also dim the screen and turn it off after a specified period of time of inactivity.

iPad and iPhone owners know that adjusting the screen brightness is not a universal process across iOS devices, and on iPad the brightness level is always accessible in the task bar. Why that feature isn't the same on an iPhone or iPod touch as well is a bit of a mystery, but future versions of iOS may correct that.

Sent with MobileRSS HD