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Applesauce: All Things Apple – March 3, 2013

Mar 03, 13 Applesauce: All Things Apple – March 3, 2013

In the epic battle of Kids versus Parents versus Apple, the parents have emerged the victor.

Apple also lost another previously settled score at the hands of Judge Koh, who decided they didn’t deserve $1 billion.

Finally, what’s to be said of Samsung? Will they soon announce their plans to become the Korean Apple?

The Taxman cometh, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t let him take your Applesauce.

Kids versus Parents versus Apple

As any iPad-toting parent will tell you, sometimes children and these devices don’t get along very well. Neither the child nor the device can really be blamed for this. It’s most often the developers of certain games that engage in some shady practices to earn more money from those in-app purchases. Sure, the game might be free, but players wanting to progress through the game (or progress more quickly) are asked to purchase extra powers or level ups or what have you with an in-app purchase. In earlier days of iOS, users only needed to give their password ten minutes after making a purchase. Specifically, if mom uses a password to buy a game for Junior, even a free game, he’ll be able to buy some extra points in the game within the next ten minutes without his mother’s password. As you might expect, many of these games make quick with the asking for money.

Last year, a group of parents who felt taken advantage of by these practices asked a judge if they could sue Apple for allowing this kind of thing to happen. The judge agreed, and this week Apple agreed to reimburse those parents who lost as much as $2,000 in errant Fish Bucks and Smurfberries purchases.

Any parent who lost between $5 and $30 will be eligible to receive an iTunes gift card for the amount lost. Those who lost more than $30 (and can prove it) will be eligible to have their refund paid back in cash. Parents seeking refunds must be able to prove that their children genuinely lost this money on their own accord. Opportunistic parents who left their passwords lying about will not be eligible for their refund.

As they’re not yet taking applications for these refunds, Apple doesn’t know how much they’ll be paying out. Without this total, the court can’t finally approve this settlement proposal. This won’t be a quick game, either; parents probably won’t receive their refunds until late 2014.

These parents are picking a fight with the wrong person, though.

Apple addressed this issue when parents first began to complain about these apps hitting their children up for money. Parents have long been able to restrict all-in app purchases or require a password before making any kind of purchase. Apple are the ones hosting this marketplace, so they’re ultimately held responsible; but it’s the app developers who should be asked to pay these parents back. I’m not sure about the legality of their practices, but it’s awfully shady to make a free app only to begin offering in-app purchases immediately, especially if it’s not entirely clear that the bonuses being offered for sale require Mommy and Daddy’s money. The in-app purchase is a very lucrative business model, however.

Take, for instance, the popular iPad sketching app “Paper.” The app is free, but you have to pay to use different brushes and utensils. If the app was sold for $9.99 — the total cost to unlock every feature — it wouldn’t be as successful as it is today. Anecdotally, I downloaded this app on the first day I got my new iPad with Retina Display to play around. In 5 minutes, I had sprung for the $6.99 essentials kit. If the app had been priced at this level or higher, I probably wouldn’t have bought it, thinking that I’d never be able to justify spending that much on a doodling app.

The in-app purchase is a great way around the App Store’s policy against free trials, but it only makes sense for adults who understand what’s going on. These app developers are probably making more money with this business model, but they’re also doing it by asking children to rob their parents.

Apple has set up restrictions to prevent this from happening and parents should be aware of them to prevent such app developers from taking advantage of their children that way.

The once-great $1 billion verdict

Remember that $1 billion verdict Apple received in their case against Samsung last summer?

That’s not a thing anymore.

In a Friday afternoon decision, US District Judge Lucy Koh invalidated nearly half of this enormous verdict, leaving Apple with only $598.9 million left to take away from their best friends Samsung.

This decision further proves the old adage that it’s not over until each side has plenty of time to appeal and persuade the judge to take another look at the verdict. Even then, it’s probably still not over.

It’s not all Koh’s fault, of course; she’s pointed the finger of blame at the jury, saying they made some rather critical calculation errors and even failed to consider a few Samsung devices that should have been. To straighten this matter out, Koh is suggesting…you guessed it…another trial, saying that the “impermissible legal theory on which the jury based its award,” does not permit her to “ reasonably calculate the amount of excess while effectuating the intent of the jury.”

Way to go, Jury.

To their credit, it looks as if the jury was simply using some data that was given to them by Apple. For some reason, this data included lost profits dating back to 2010 when Apple first slapped Samsung with the silky glove of litigation. Seems odd that Apple would want the jury to use calculations that would have increased their reward, no?

Koh has objected, saying that these reward calculations should only cover lost profits from after the suit was first filed, in April 2011.

In her own words: “There are eight phones for which the jury awarded 40 percent of Samsung’s profits for the entire period, but for which, during some of the damages period, infringer’s profits was not an authorized remedy.”

“As the court can neither calculate an appropriate remittitur nor leave the award intact, the only remaining possibility is to conduct a new trial on damages for these 8 products.”

The Galaxy Prevail, Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Galaxy Tab, Nexus S 4G and more are all included in this list of products, which will need to be discussed over another retrial.

Judge Koh has also told both companies that they are more than welcome to appeal this decision, should the mood strike.

We’ve all been having so much fun watching this procedure unfold, of course, so there’s no need to rush to any sort of hasty conclusion. An appeal after every decision just seems to make sense, no?

There’s still the issue of those infringing devices that weren’t considered by the jury. According to Bloomberg, Koh will rule how much Apple will earn from this infringement by calculating the damages beginning on August 25, 2012, the day after the jury handed down their $1 billion…err, $598.9 million verdict.

Suddenly, and I don’t know why, but the song that never ends has just started playing in my mind.

I should have that looked at.

Samsung; Soon to be everyone’s rival

Speaking of, what’s to be said of Samsung? The company who once made cheap plastic phones and TVs has now become a huge mobile leader who also makes cheap plastic phones and TVs.

Point is, they wouldn’t have been able to become so popular and powerful if it hadn’t been for all those years they copied Apple products and earned themselves some market share. The Samsung of today is much different from the Samsung of 5 years ago, of course. They talk a big game about designing their Galaxy products after rocks and ripples in the water, but all in all, they’re doing a decent job when it comes to designing and building their products.

Their marketing team is doing even better, in my opinion.

Yep, they’re almost like a Korean Apple building good products and using clever marketing to get their name out there.

And though they don’t have their own software (unless you count Bada), they’ve somehow managed to earn themselves some brand loyalty and position their products as the next great opponent of Apple. There have been several companies who would have killed to be on the other side of “Apple vs.” and Samsung’s managed to take it, which is odd when you consider they only make the hardware.

Sure, they’ve been able to take common features and make them their own, such as the touch to share NFC feature or that damned stylus, but this mostly comes down to simple branding. The rest of their prowess comes from Google’s Android.

Google took advantage of having the world’s biggest mobile players in one general area this week and, according to the Wall Street Journal, they want the other guys, like HTC and HP, to begin making better phones, to stand up and rival all which Samsung has wrought.

As it turns out, Samsung now realizes they are responsible for delivering almost half of all the Android smartphones in the world. For those keeping score at home, all the Android smartphones in the world add up to about 70 percent of all smartphones in the world, total.

Sources have told the Wall Street Journal now that Samsung realizes they have some hand in these dealings, they’ve casually let it slip that they might want more than that paltry 10 percent cut of mobile ad earnings they’ve been receiving from Google.

Make no mistake…Google may develop Android and be in charge of YouTube and a blossoming suite of office software and that little search engine of theirs…but they’re after the ad money. All of these things are just a means to an end, a clever way to get people to hand over more and more information about themselves. They don’t care so much about offering a great mail client, they just want to know who you’re emailing, what you’re saying, and where you’re sending it from. That Gmail is a great client only helps bring in more users willing to hand over more information.

Android is a totally Google experience, complete with accounts and passwords which all tie in to someone’s data. The more people who use these phones, they more data they’re able to feed their unquenchable bellies. The revenue from mobile search alone is enough to get them quivering. And like it or not, Samsung is now responsible for personally delivering all this data on a silver, Galaxy S III platter.

The Journal piece claims that Google is quite aware of the imminent threat posed by Samsung, that they talk about it openly around the offices. If they’re unable to persuade HTC and HP to step up their game and make the next Galaxy killer (Whoa…what just happened), they may have to look to their new Motorola Mobility arm to start producing something worth a damn. It will be very interesting to see how Samsung positions themselves in the next year. Perhaps they’ll remain where they are, happy to just be a part. Or maybe they’ll leverage Bada and become, quite literally, the Korean Apple and completely kick Google to the curb.

At that point, Google may have a lot of catching up to do.

Even government nerds don’t want BlackBerry

In closing, let’s note yet another in a long line of significant losses suffered by BlackBerry. Several U.S. governmental departments have made the decision to switch from BlackBerry devices to Apple and Android, and for good reason. The handsets that were employed were beginning to show their wear and crash at inopportune times. The agencies didn’t want to spend all the money to upgrade if the new devices would be invalidated by the new and upcoming (at the time) BlackBerry 10. At the time, what was then known as RIM had already delayed BB 10 a few times before, leaving many to wonder if this new operating system would ever see the light of day.

This week, the Pentagon announced they, too, would begin allowing Android and iOS devices to access their secure classified and protected unclassified networks.

Image Credit: Photos.com

The Pentagon isn’t kicking BlackBerry completely out of the door, only giving their agents a choice as to which device they’d like to use.

If the commercial and private sector is any indication (it is) then these agents will almost certainly choose an Android or iPhone.

BlackBerry was once a mainstay in Government; yet the company and the platform have left plenty to be desired in recent years, giving Android and iPhone plenty of opportunity to overtake them.

This Pentagon move is more than just choosing a handset, of course.

When the plan is fully implemented next year, it will be the first time wireless devices are able to access these secured classified networks. It’s a shift that will require plenty of security work and bolstering of the infrastructure.

In other words, this isn’t just a move to kick out BlackBerry; it’s a move to give agents a choice, and they’ll almost certainly vote non-BlackBerry.

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