Breakfast Briefing: Apple’s “little” event, gov.uk goes live and tech tax shenanigans
In this morning’s top stories, more iPad mini rumours, Foxconn’s child labour revelations, ZTE’s late move out of surveillance and what tax tech companies pay in the UK.
Apple sets date for “little” event
Apple looks set to unveil an iPad mini on 23 October, after sending out invitations to an event, saying it had a “little more to show”. There isn’t a UK event planned, so it’s unclear if shoppers on these shores should save their pennies for a tiny iPad or not.
The Financial Times argues the tablet will have to arrive quickly, in order to take full advantage of the Christmas shopping rush. Aside from timing, the other major point of speculation is price: does it need to compete with low-cost devices released by Google and Amazon? One analyst thinks not: “If Apple produces a product that is clearly superior on a performance level to what the competition has out there, they still have room to put a price premium on it,” said Rhoda Alexander, analyst at IHS iSuppli.
Foxconn admits using 14-year-old interns
Foxconn admits interns as young as 14 worked at one of its facilities over the summer – but none worked on Apple products, and were only at the plant for three weeks, the company claimed to BusinessWeek.
“Any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated,” Foxconn said. “We recognise that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action.”
ZTE sells off snooping arm
ZTE has quietly sold off a surveillance arm of the company, giving up a majority stake in ZTE Special Equipment, according to a report by the Register highlights. The company, which is under fire in the US amid investigations it sold communications equipment to Iran and could also be a threat to US systems, revealed in a stock exchange filing that it was looking “to focus its resources on its principal businesses”. The company made the decision back in September, the filing shows, but it may have come too late to save the company’s reputation in the US.
Microsoft snaps up StorSimple
Microsoft has moved to strengthen its cloud storage services by purchasing StorSimple to get hold of the company’s cloud-integrated storage technology.
In a statement, the company said the move would make it easier for companies to use the cloud as a storage platform while still accessing and controlling its own local storage. “To be effective, cloud storage needs to integrate with IT’s current investments,” said Michael Park, corporate vice president, Server and Tools Division for Microsoft.
Official launch for gov.uk central website
Cabinet Minister Francis Maude has gone and blogged, waxing lyrical over the launch of the new central government platform gov.uk Maude says the web site is unique in government because “it has been created putting its users’ needs at its heart, not the needs of government”.
Sections of the site include “Driving, transport, and travel”, offering details on how to get passports and pay car tax. And proving that Maude has been paying attention to web-service language, he said the site would cost taxpayers “up to £70 million less than the service it replaces”. ISPs would be proud of such meaningless promises.
Tax bills compared: Facebook, Google, Amazon and more
The Guardian’s data blog has an interactive infographic comparing the tax bills of major firms operating in the US – it’s not only about tech firms, but it does give context for how much money Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM and eBay make in the UK, and how much they pay in taxes. None of them come out particularly well, but Facebook’s recent change in tactics is especially notable.