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October 19, 2012

Technology News Briefs — Oct. 19, 2012

Judge orders Apple to reveal iPhone profit margins

Apple may have to go public with its profit details on the iPhone.

Judge Lucy Koh, the same judge to preside over Apple’s U.S. patent case against Samsung, has ordered Apple to release information on its iPhone sales, earnings and profit margins.

Although the company reports unit sales on its various products each quarter, it does not reveal the profit margin on each iPhone.

Apple, however says divulging such data would profit its competitors and is appealing Koh’s ruling. The matter will go to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Apple’s ongoing battle with Samsung is at least partly to blame for the judge’s decision. The company wants 26 different Samsung products banned from the market as well as $535 million — that is in addition to the $1.05 billion Apple was recently paid in initial damages after a jury ruled in its favor in the patent case against Samsung.

“Such remedies would have a profound effect on the Smartphone industry, consumers, and the public,” Koh said. “As the extensive media coverage indicates, this is a truly extraordinary case of exceptional interest to the public. Apple’s reasons would have to be very compelling indeed to overcome the unusually robust public interest in access.”

AOL Launches New E-Mail Program

AOL has launched Alto, a new e-mail program, in a bid to recapture the company’s glory days —the 1990s when it was a popular e-mail provider.

The service will be free for everyone, not just current AOL mail users.

But AOL is not expecting users to sign up for yet another e-mail address — instead, the company is offering a web-based IMAP client to handle existing e-mail accounts.

Alto is similar to Outlook or Postbox — it allows users to manage as many as five e-mail accounts on one interface. Alto works with e-mail accounts with which IMAP is available: Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud and AOL.

A beta test version of Alto will be available only on the Web to start. Eventually there also will be versions for tablets and mobile phones.

Google Planning Oct. 29 Event

Google is planning an Android event Oct. 29.

The company sent out invitations for the New York City event Oct. 18.

Google’s event comes on the heels of Apple’s Oct. 23 event during which the company is to launch the iPad mini and its 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

It is not known what product Google will announce but, according to the rumor mill, it may be working with LG to launch a new Nexus phone. It is also thought the company could be poised to announce a 32 GB version of the Nexus 7.

It has also been whispered that Google is teamed up with Sony and other companies to build additional Nexus Smartphones.

Apple Acquires Color Labs Engineers: Reports        

Apple is shelling out up to $5 million to acquire “about 20” Color Labs engineers who will work on cloud-based projects for Apple, while the remainder of Color is “wound down,” according to an All Things Digital story.

Apple’s interest in Color Labs was reported Oct. 17 by The Next Web. The story hinted Apple was interested in some of the company’s patents and, possibly, the company’s media sharing tools.

Apple has not confirmed the “engineer pick up.” The news comes about one month after Apple’s purchase of Particle, a small HTML5 company with talented workers.