Apple's New Product Rumor Distraction from Lawsuit?
There seems to be a fuzzy fine line between business-savvy measures and illegal business-savvy measures. It's a line the U.S. Justice Department is saying that Apple Inc. crossed, alleging that the technology giant colluded with five other publishers to fix the prices of electronic books and prevent competition from Amazon.
The U.S. Justice Department filed the antitrust lawsuit on Wednesday against Apple Inc, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon Schuster, Macmillan and Pearson, and PLC’s Penguin Group (USA). The crux of the suit involves the publishers’ shift from a traditional wholesale pricing model which allowed retailers to set the price of electronic and physical books to an agency model under which publishers set the price and retailers only receive a commission of that price.
“As a result of this alleged conspiracy, we believe that consumers paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular titles,” said Attorney General Eric Holder at a Washington news conference.
While Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon Schuster have settled with the Department of Justice, other publishers such as Macmillan have protested the antitrust lawsuit, saying that the agency model wasn’t wrong and was motivated by fear of Amazon’s dominance over the e-book market.
The settlement that the publishers have agreed to allows Amazon and other retailers to set the consumer price of e-books and a separate settlement with states could lead to tens of millions of dollars in restitution to consumers who bought e-books.
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr denied the charges in an email to Reuters, stating that the charges were ‘simply not true’ —a statement that we found less than news-worthy since major businesses like Apple hardly ever cave in to charges of business misconduct, especially not after the major supply chain embarrassment of Foxconn.
"The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told the Wall Street Journal.
Blocking competition to prevent a monopoly somehow doesn’t make sense; doesn't blocking competition to prevent a monopoly create another monopoly?
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Meanwhile, French designer Philippe Starck has popped out of the woodwork to hint at a mysterious ‘revolutionary’ new product that he is working on with Apple, according to PC Magazine and AppleInsider. Starck let the cat out of the bag during a radio interview Thursday with France Info but did not release any further details. The full translation of the interview can be found here.
"Indeed, there is a big project together which will be out in eight months," Starck said.
This report has fueled rumors of a new Apple television or a new Apple iPhone, setting Apple lovers aflame with tech-lust---“Must have new Apple thing NOW!”
We question whether Starck’s announcement was fueled by his own desire to set the Apple world alight with product desire. Or was it a diversionary tactic by Apple to turn the public’s fickle and short attention span to a shiny new product rather than a messy antitrust lawsuit? Of course this lawsuit is merely a small flea on a big dog, but probably any good publicity is helpful for Apple right now.
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”