Rumors persist of HTC One with stock Android, despite the official denial

VIA: Phandroid
FROM: Engadget

Is Russell Holly a seer of the future, or did he just manage to get lucky? That’s the question we’re currently kicking around at Engadget. You see, when he first revealed that a Galaxy S 4 would be introduced at Google I/O with stock Android, we quickly dismissed it as something that’d never happen in a million years. Then it came true the very next day. Now, Holly is back with another mighty tall claim: “HTC is considering a stock Android variant of the One for release in theUS.” In fairness, rumors of such a phone began to circulate last week, but were quenched just as quickly by HTC. Contrary to the denial, however, Holly claims that multiple sources have informed him of an HTC One that’s in the works with stock Android 4.2.2. It’s tough to make heads or tails of Holly’s report, especially since he follows the assertion that HTC is “considering” such a phone with a claim that it’ll be announced within the next two weeks. Naturally, we’re taking this with more than the usual dose of skepticism, but like Fox Mulder, we want to believe.


Google Drive on Android, Scans receipts, Adds Cards

Seth Rosenblatt by Seth Rosenblatt May 22, 2013 7:04 PM PDT

Receipt scanning and a new interface, heavily influenced from the Cards look of Google Glass and Google Now, greet you in an update to Google Drive for Android.

You can now scan in receipts and other important documents directly to Google Drive for Android.
(Credit: Google)

Google Now is such a big deal that its interface sensibilities are spilling over into other Google services. The latest recipient of a healthy dose of Now is Google Drive (download), which updated its Android app on Wednesday with several new features.

A new Scan feature lets you back up and track important receipts, business cards, and documents by using existing optical character recognition (OCR) tech already in Drive. Choose Scan from the “Add New” menu, take a photo of the document, and Drive will automatically turn it into a searchable PDF.

The new interface leverages the Card look from Google+ and Google Play by creating more space between items. It also offers a new grid view and “large icon” previews, big enough to get a sense of what’s in the document but really more effective with images.

Document editing has undergone some edits of its own. You can adjust spreadsheet cell text colors and cell alignment from the app, which you couldn’t do before, and you can change a cell’s font typeface and size.

Finally, you can choose on a per-file basis to download documents to your local device storage, in addition to making them available to edit offline.

A Ballsy But Genius Tax Avoidance Scheme of Apple

Apple Avoids Paying $17 Million In Taxes Every Day Through A Ballsy But Genius Tax Avoidance Scheme\
Walter Hickey | May 21, 2013, 4:16 PM

Apple CEO Tim Cook charmed the Senate today, testifying on the company’s tax avoidance practices.

The most interesting part of the story wasn’t on the Senate floor, however.

The report published by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations detailing Apple’s strategies is a great read on its own.

The report gives an inside look on Apple’s absolutely genius tax avoidance strategies.

Apple uses a variety of offshore structures and arrangements to shift billions of dollars from the United States to Ireland.

The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35%, while Apple said it has negotiated a special corporate tax rate in Ireland of less than 2%*.

(The 2% rate statement has proven controversial, see below for details)

Apple has found the secret to not paying taxes. You just avoid taxes by not declaring a tax residency for the company that oversees the entirety of your international income.

First, let’s look at Apple’s main offshore holding company:

Apple Operations International (AOI) is the company’s primary offshore holding company. It was registered in Cork, Ireland in 1980, and its purpose is to serve as a cash consolidator for most of Apple’s offshore affiliates. It receives dividends from those affiliates and makes contributions as needed.

  • Apple owns 100% of AOI either directly or through controlled foreign corporations.
  • AOI owns several subsidiaries, including Apple Operations Europe, Apple Distribution International, and Apple Singapore.
  • AOI has no physical presence and has not had any employees for 33 years. It has 2 directors and 1 officer, all Apple Inc. brass. One is Irish, two live in California.
  • 32 of 33 AOI board meetings were held in Cupertino rather than Cork.
  • Shockingly, AOI doesn’t pay taxes. Anywhere. The holding company had a net income of $30 billion from 2009 to 2012, but has not declared tax residency in any jurisdiction.
  • AOI’s income made up 30% of Apple’s total world profits from 2009- 2011.

A key quote from the report explains why AOI exists:

Apple explained that, although AOI has been incorporated in Ireland since 1980, it has not declared a tax residency in Ireland or any other country and so has not paid any corporate income tax to any national government in the past 5 years. Apple has exploited a difference between Irish and U.S. tax residency rules. Ireland uses a management and control test to determine tax residency, while the United States determines tax residency based upon the entity’s place of formation. Apple explained that, although AOI is incorporated in Ireland, it is not tax resident in Ireland, because AOI is neither managed nor controlled in Ireland. Apple also maintained that, because AOI was not incorporated in the United States, AOI is not a U.S. tax resident under U.S. tax law either.

Please take a moment to consider the genius of Apple Inc.

Apple Sales International (ASI) is a second Irish affiliate. It is the repository for all of Apple’s offshore intellectual property rights.

  • ASI buys Apple’s finished products from contracted manufacturers in China — think Foxconn — and resells them at a major markup to other Apple affiliates in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and the Pacific.
  • Although ASI is an Irish incorporated entity and the purchaser of the goods, only a small percentage of Apple’s manufactured products ever entered Ireland.
  • Upon arrival, the products were resold by ASI to the Apple distribution affiliate that took ownership of the goods.
  • Before 2012, ASI had no employees despite $38 billion in income over three years.
  • Apple’s cost sharing arrangement facilitated the shift of $74 billion in worldwide profits away from the United States from 2009 to 2012.
  • ASI’s parent company is Apple Operations Europe Inc. Together they own the intellectual property rights to Apple goods sold offshore.
  • Like AOI, ASI claims to be a tax resident of nowhere. It’s not obligated to pay taxes to any nation.

*UPDATE: Earlier today an Irish minister disputed that Apple negotiated a tax rate less than two percent.

Here’s the section from the subcommittee report disputing that comment, directly from Phillip Bullock, Apple Inc.’s Tax Operation Head. The interview was conducted on May 15, 2013.

Apple told the Subcommittee that, for many years, Ireland has provided Apple affiliates with a special tax rate that is substantially below its already relatively low statutory rate of 12 percent. Apple told the Subcommittee that it had obtained this special rate through negotiations with the Irish government. According to Apple, for the last ten years, this special corporate income tax rate has been 2 percent or less:

“Since the early 1990’s, the Government of Ireland has calculated Apple’s taxable income in such a way as to produce an effective rate in the low single digits …. The rate has varied from year to year, but since 2003 has been 2% or less.”

Other information provided by Apple indicates that the Irish tax rate assessed on Apple affiliates has recently been substantially below 2%. For example, Apple told the Subcommittee that, for the three year period from 2009 to 2011, ASI paid an Irish corporate income tax rate that was consistently below far below 1% and, in 2011, was as low as five-hundreds of one percent (0.05%):

It seems as if any deal pertains to a calculation of taxable income that procures a sub-2% rate rather than a toggled rate in and of itself.

And from document PSI-Apple-02-004, provided by Apple to the Senate:

Since the early 1990’s, the Government of Ireland has calculated Apple’s taxable income in such a way as to produce an effective rate in the low single digits, and this is the primary factor that contributes to Apple’s rate. The rate has varied from year to year, but since 2003 has been 2% or less. This result is similar to incentives made available by many U.S. states and other countries to entice investment in their jurisdictions.

Read more:

Yahoo Buys Tumblr by $1.1 Billion in Cash!

Why Yahoo’s $1.1 Billion Tumblr Buy Is A Great Idea
Jay Yarow and Nicholas Carlson | May 19, 2013, 1:05 PM | 7,887 | 15
Published on Business Insider.

It’s all but official.
Yahoo’s board has reportedly approved the plan to buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash. Tumblr’s board has reportedly agreed to the deal, too.
So, unless something goes wildly wrong, then Yahoo is going to own Tumblr, the simple blogging/social network site.
According to Quantcast, Tumblr had 184 million unique visitors, and 12.1 billion pageviews last month.
Despite those impressive numbers, it’s light on revenue, which is making a lot of people question the wisdom of spending $1.1 billion in cash on the site.
We think this is a win for both Tumblr and Yahoo. Yahoo gets a big, young audience. Tumblr gets more money and time to figure out its business.
Here’s the longer explanation of those two points from our previous report on the deal:
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is perfectly positioned to give Tumblr CEO David Karp what he wants.
You might think David Karp would sell Tumblr to Yahoo for $1 billion because it would put $250 million in his pocket.
You would not be stupid to think this.
$250 million is a nice incentive for anyone, let alone a first-time entrepreneur in his 20s, like Karp.
Karp has gotten lots of offers to sell Tumblr at prices that would make him rich over the years, and he’s resisted them all.
Why would he sell this time?
Easy: Karp and Tumblr have problems like never before…
Tumblr does not have a COO and the board wants him to hire one,
Tumblr is light on revenues. (Karp disputed this in an earlier story, but sources told us Tumblr is doing OK on revenues – it’s marginally behind plan.)
Tumblr needs cash to keep running and growing.
Selling to Mayer solves all those problems.
To keep Tumblr’s servers going, Yahoo has billions of dollars in cash. As for revenues and a COO?
Mayer, we’re guessing, will tell Karp not to worry about either for now.
Mayer, according to lots and lots of sources who have worked with her, is not concerned with things like “revenue” and “money.” She’s much more focused on “product” and “user-growth.”
Right now, Yahoo shareholders are happy to let her do that. That’s because Yahoo shareholders are not shareholders because of Yahoo’s core business or core products.
They are Yahoo shareholders because owning Yahoo is the only way to make a pre-IPO bet on Alibaba, a successful Chinese Internet company that Yahoo owns a big stake in.
So Mayer is perfectly able to spend a billion dollars on Tumblr and allow Karp to keep running it relatively ad-free. This in turn, should keep Tumblr growing, since users hate ads.
Buying Tumblr helps Yahoo solve one of Yahoo’s biggest problems: mobile.
Sometime in the next couple years, more people will be accessing the Internet through mobile devices than through PCs.
This trend is bad news for Yahoo, which has limited mobile reach and even more limited mobile usage.
(Its reach numbers get a boost because Yahoo gets credit for having a weather app installed by default on every new iPhone. This is despite the facts that the Weather Channel provides the data for the app, Apple built the app, and Yahoo sells no ads in the app.)
Tumblr, despite a rocky start in mobile, now has TONS of mobile users.
Check out this table from ComScore, which shows that Tumblr is, relatively speaking, about as strong as Facebook in mobile, and much stronger than Yahoo:
tumblr mobile

Read more:

Google’s Plan To Take Over The World

Authored by Steve Kovach in Business Insider | May 18, 2013, 8:00 AM

Google’s big keynote at its I/O developers conference this week wore me out.

Not because it lasted a grueling three hours and fifty minutes, but because of what was announced. With every new product update, every new feature, every new virtual service, it became more and more clear that Google isn’t just a search company that makes loads of cash by showing you ads. It’s creeping into every aspect of our digital, physical, and private lives at an exponential rate.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.

Google isn’t just the backbone of the Internet anymore. It’s rapidly becoming the backbone of your entire life, all thanks to data you’re voluntarily giving up to a private company based on your Web searches, photos, Gmail messages, and more.

After spending three days at I/O this week, it became more apparent than ever that unless millions (billions?) of people suddenly change their mind and start using alternative tech tools, or unless the government steps in waving the anti-trust banner, our lives, our history, and our personal wealth could be managed by one company –– Google.

It’s the most apparent in Google Now, a voice-powered personal assistant that launched on Android phones last year. At I/O, it became even more clear that Google no longer sees search as returning a list of 10 or 20 relevant links when you type in a query. Google Now is much more than that. It’s the embodiment of that geeky dream of a “Star Trek Computer,” an intelligent machine that understands natural language and real-world context to assist you before you even know you need assistance.

Google Now scans your email and knows when your Amazon package is arriving. It knows what sports scores to show you based on the teams you’ve searched for. It knows what stock prices to show you based on the companies you search for. It scans your calendar and reminds you when to leave to make your appointment on time. And all that data is delivered to you without you having to ask.

Following I/O, Google Now is more prevalent than before. Google recently launched the app on iPhones and iPads, and it’s coming to the desktop soon if you use the Chrome Web browser. Next year, you’ll be wearing Google Now on your face if you buy Google Glass.

Then there are photos, arguably the most personal things you share online. Now, Google scans every single one you upload to Google+. It can learn what your family members look like and group photos of them into albums automatically. It can tell if your subjects are smiling. If they’re not smiling, it can stitch their faces in from other images where they are and create the perfect photo for you. It knows if you’re taking pictures of mountains or puppies or buildings or famous landmarks and group your photo albums together accordingly.

It’s creepy and magical at the same time.

Google Glass didn’t get any stage time during the I/O keynote, but it was still a significant part of the event. You couldn’t go anywhere –– the press room, the cafeteria, the restroom –– without someone’s computerized headgear staring back at you. It was oddly discomforting knowing that thousands of people had the ability to take a photo or video of you just by winking at their Glass.
It’s far too early to tell if Glass will take off when it’s ready for the general public, but if it does, then it’ll be just another example of how Google has reached into the physical space to take over everything we see and do.

I could go on and on, but this week I learned that Google has its hand in almost every aspect day-to-day life and its penetration is only accelerating.

Android is growing like crazy with 900 million activations to date, and it has the potential to connect billions of people to the Internet for the first time in the next few years. Google Maps has a new look, and it’s turned into a snappy way to find places to visit and get recommendations. Gmail is turning into a money transfer service. I can only imagine what Google co-founder Sergey Brin is working on at Google X, the company’s lab for futuristic products.

The question to ask now is, are we OK with this? Does the benefit of faster search, better transportation, and automated news updates outweigh giving up so much of our lives to a computer run by a private company that mines our data?

They’re issues we’d have to tackle gradually, but hopefully not before Google advances faster than we can adapt.

Samsung: Plagiarism? Success? Or Both?

Recently, the judicial decision of the patent lawsuit between Samsung and Apple settled down. Samsung Electronics was sentenced to compensate Apple $10.5 billion for its infringement. This verdict made Samsung’s copycat image firmly embedded and got people to question the brand value of Samsung.

But, so what?

James Song, the analyst of KDB Daewoo Securities, said, “The ruling makes us reconsider the brand value of Samsung because it depicts Samsung as a copycat, but a copycat or not, what Samsung has done with its smartphones was a brilliant move. Look what has happened to companies like Nokia, Motorola and Blackberry, which didn’t do as Samsung did, referring to competitors whose failures to adapt quickly to the smartphone boom driven by iPhone have drastically reduced their market shares. Samsung may lack in innovation, but right now, no one can beat Samsung in playing catch-up. “The plagiarism has been held in contempt by designers. Samsung has done it to the extreme, successfully.

And what is behind this?

We know that Samsung started from transistor radio. And now, the range of Samsung’s product covers smartphones, high-definition TVS, memory chips, flat -panel TV and so on. In fact, FPTV and high-end smartphones are innovated in Japan. What Samsung did was to see how the market responds to these two new products and wait for the time to be ripe. Sometimes, it is not a good thing to wait for the right moment. But what Samsung want is never the initiative, which is at high cost. Innovation requires high cost in research and development, and there are tremendous risks afoot. The Samsung strategy is to produce similar products with higher quality, lower cost and faster update, which leave its competitor far away behind. Plenty of cases can be used to support this argument. Thus, we may put it in this way; the secret of Samsung is to plagiarize with high speed, quality and accuracy. But this is only the strategy for Samsung products.

Is there any other external factor that motivates the “copycat” behavior of Samsung?

Firstly, it may be associated with South Korea’s business atmosphere. Korean always acts faster than others. Due to their rapid response mechanism, Korean companies can adapt their products to whatever they need to be. From the design to production, the speed of the entire circle is unparalleled. Other than this, Korean companies prefer to set their own challenges.

Secondly, it is separable from the support from the government. Rapid update speed and response mechanism require a large amount of capital, which has never been a problem for Samsung. Since Samsung is still in its infancy, it gained the support from the government, which ensured the low-interest loans. With a vast cash flow, Samsung’s rapid response has been guaranteed. In addition, Samsung Group also offers Samsung Electronics, which is part of the Samsung Group, great support.

The last but not the least, the industrial train inside the Samsung Electronics backs up Samsung’s success. Besides the end products, Samsung produce the components of the electronic equipment. It is the world’s largest memory chip maker and the second largest semiconductor suppliers. Ironically, Apple, Sony and other competitors of Samsung turn out to be the largest consumer of the chipset, which are widely used in iPad and PlayStation 3. In the meantime, it is difficult for Apple to find a vendor who is able to provide the same quality of chips with same price. And this allows Samsung to hold the initiative in hands during the competition.

All in all, it is hard to say who the winner is and who the loser is. They both own their advantages and disadvantages in the same time. Guess they are just a pair of joy enemy.

Where is Multimedia Market Going?

The widespread use of multimedia techniques, enabled by the rapid development and popularization of Internet, has been seen these years. And in the field of Media Science, no matter hardwares and softwares, all have experienced several rounds of revolution. However, there is no end of this revolution, a continuous innovation is required.

In addition to the improvements of the hardware facilities, the softwares should be a timely fashion in order to catch up. Let’s take Blu-ray Disk as an example. This format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video(HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. It offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc. It is no doubt a revolution in the field of multimedia. However, the big advantage of its own does not necessarily mean its universal acknowledgment. Let’s say, Mac, in the first place, is not supported BD playing. Where there is a problem, there is a way out. The release of Mac Blu-ray Player practically close the chapter that BD is not playable on Mac OS. The outputting video remains HIGH-definition quality without any loss of data and frame, which is guaranteed by the DTC5.1. All audio tracks, sub streams, chapter markers and videos are fully preserved. It also supports NVIDA’s CUDA acceleration technology.

Here comes another supporting example. As we know, no all the terminal devices are equipped with a Blu-ray Drive and Blu-ray disc is protected with better encryption method, AACS(Advanced Access Content System) and BD+ copyright protections. The fantastic experience brought by Mac Blu-ray Player is not confined on the desktop. In the newly updated versions, this program can make Blu-ray playable on Apple devices, including iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch through its core technology-AriX. Just make sure your devices and your computer are under the same Wi-Fi environment.

In this way, the seamless fusion of hardwares and softwares is undoubtedly the irresistible trend of multimedia techniques. And from my point of view, the prospect of multimedia technology is going to be determined by its development on terminal devices. Why? The flourish of mobile devices is the mainstream that no matter hardware or software producers should follow. We have pretty mature scheme on PC but are still fumble on the newly emerged tablets and smart phones. And this means a great opportunity and challenge in the meantime for us to seek and face.