Dec 19

Sale of Apple Products Put On Hold Due to Volatile Rouble

Apple Inc has stopped selling iPods, iPhones and other Apple products due to weakening of the Russian currency. Following the economic developments of Tuesday, the country’s Rouble went into a free fall after losing over 20 per cent in the last week.

Even a hike in interest’s rates from 10.5 per cent to 17 per cent has done little to keep exchange rates in check. Because of this, it has been deemed to be economically unfeasible to maintain sales in such a treacherous sales environment.

On Wednesday, the rouble slid by another 5 per cent to bring the value of the currency at an all time low of 79 roubles for a dollar. Apple on its part was forced to increase its price by a whopping 20 per cent last month since its products were available for the cheapest prices in Russia than anywhere else in Europe, that’s what Brad Reifler was analyzing anyway.

With the continuing flux of over the volatile rouble, Apple Inc has decided to stop sales of all its products until the currency regains its stability. Russia on its part continues to face formidable problems since it lost more than half its value against the dollar earlier this year due to availability of cheaper oil.

American sanctions over Russia’s role in Ukraine is also said to have played a crucial role over the weakening economy.

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Dec 09

FreedomPop Ready to Sell Apple Devices

FreedomPop, an upstart mobile carrier, has decided to start supporting Apple’s iPhone, providing various low-cost and free plans along with Apple phones that are compatible with Sprint’s network.

FreedomPop will offer a virtually new revamped iPhone 5 handset for under $350 directly, while consumers can additionally bring their personal iPhone 4 that’s compatible with Sprint, or iPhone 5. The company’s free plan offers 500 megabytes of data a month, 500 text messages, and 200 voice minutes. Some of their other plans start at just $5 a month and they have a $20 Unlimited Plan.

CEO Stephan Stokols has taken to Twitter claiming that making the move is a giant step for the company. Up until now, FreedomPop’s service only worked with just a few older Android-based models. Stokols is excited about the company’s progress and looks forward to even greater expansion for the company.

FreedomPop announced on Facebook that it’s already signed up literally tens of thousands of new consumers since they added mobile service last October of 2013. The company started out by providing low-cost and free mobile broadband using USB sticks, WiFi, and other connective devices, such as the Freedom Spot Photon device.

Stephan Stokols claims that the iPhone 5 has the advantage of incorporating LTE that he states provides the utmost performance regarding FreedomPop’s service voice-over-IP while also offering a relatively affordable price point in general.

The company itself, which is supported by Atomico (Niklas Zennstrom), is just one of many nonconventional cellphone companies that readily provide their own phone service in addition to a conventional provider’s network. Other progressive phone companies in the mix include Ting, Solavei, and Republic Wireless, just to name a few.

Stokols states that FreedomPop’s business is expanding faster than they could have ever imagined or anticipated. In fact, during the final quarter of 2013 last year, the company pulled in around $5 million plus in revenue overall. However, Stokols said those numbers are already substantially higher than expected and the goal of FreedomPop is to bring in IPO kind of numbers of approximately $10 million a month by this time next year. But after the success of their international calling service announcement, he claims that doesn’t indicate that the company was committed to going public necessarily.

FreedomPop wants to provide more capable Android-based devices than just the HTC Evo 4G and Galaxy SII models it originally launched its service with. In the not too distant future, Stokols says the company intends to add the LTE ready Galaxy S4 and Galaxy SIII, with the latter selling for less than $200 and the former going for less than $300, while still using refurbished, like-new models.

Along with directly selling the iPhone service, FreedomPop is additionally launching a compatible app for people using iPhones in conjunction with other services. The app consists of free texting, voice, and voicemail to any other iPhone consumer, although data charges still apply for one’s current carrier.

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Dec 02

The Legacy of Steve Jobs Continues Through His Widow: Laurene Powell Jobs

Laurene Powell Jobs continues the legacy of her husband Steve Jobs through a variety of philanthropic and business efforts. She is the founder of Emerson Collectives, which fights for immigration reform, environmental conservation, and social justice. She, now, controls the Steven P. Jobs Trust or Laurene Powell Jobs Trust. She is the largest shareholder in the Walt Disney Company, and she is the twenty-ninth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

Philanthropic Efforts

Powell Jobs serves on the advisory board of Udacity. It’s a company supported by Stanford that supports affordable education. Achieva is a similar organization that helps students study and become more effective at standardized testing. She served on the board of directors for this organization also.

In addition to her work with Emerson Collective, she also is on the board of directors of College Track, The Foundation for Excellence in Education, Stanford, and Conservation International. While working at the Emerson Collective, she has worked on The Dream is Now Campaign, NewSchools Venture Fund, and Conservation International.

She also partnered with Carlos Watson as a co-founder of College Track. It’s a non-profit organization designed to improve high school graduation, college graduation rates, and college enrollment for “underserved” students. The program is considered a wild success. With the program, 90 percent of the students attend four-year colleges, and 70 percent finish college in six years. This helps to keep the standards high in the school systems in San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Oakland, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

Her Business Efforts

Powell Jobs co-founded Terravera, which is a natural foods company that sells to retailers in Northern California. She also worked for Merill Lynch Asset Management and spent three years at Goldman Sachs as a fixed-income trading strategist. She has an extensive background that has helped her continue the Steve Jobs legacy posthumously.

Her Background

Powell Jobs was raised in Milford, New Jersey, and she earned an M.B.A. from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1991, a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1985, and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1991, she married Steve Jobs in Yosemite National Park in Ahwahnee Hotel. A Zen Buddhist monk presided over the wedding. They had three children: Reed, Erin, and Eve. Each of them is separated by three to four years in age.

The Jobs Legacy Lives On

Though it’s been difficult for Powell Jobs since her husband died of pancreatic cancer, she continues on in the community by helping others achieve their dreams as her husband achieved his. She also imparts her knowledge and tries to give back to the community. Her efforts are raising the standard of living in the area through education and outreach. Powell Jobs plans to continue to do more in the future to make the community and the world a safe place to work and live.

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Nov 22

What is the Skout Social App?

Skout is a mobile application that is available on the Apple and Android platform. The interface is a bit different from other types of mobile dating apps. Users will discover they can easily flip through singles who are in their area, view messages, and get notifications from their smartphone or tablet.

Highlights

* The app has been downloaded over 100 million times by users all around the world.
* Users can meet people who are in their local area or from miles away.
* Points that are earned can be used to send messages, virtual gifts, and other options.
* Photos can be sent to other users.
* View photos on the Buzz photo stream.
* Users can update their profile directly from their tablet or smartphone.
* Account access is available via app, standard website, or mobile web.

Mobile

Users have two options for installing Skout on their smartphone or tablet. There is a free app that users can install or a paid app. The paid app is called Skout Plus and offers more features. Both apps are easy to use and allow all users to easily communicate. Installing Skout Plus is necessary to remove ads, send virtual gifts or to view private photos.

Establishing a connection with a random user can be done when one user simply shakes their device. A connection can be made with users who are local or found anywhere around the world. Connected users can chat and view each others profile. This option is a lot of fun and can easily be addictive.

Interaction

The availability of virtual gifts with features that include comments and likes offers users the ability to interact when using the app. Accessing these features is done by using in-app credits or points users need to earn. Users are not required to upload a photo to use as an avatar. This means anyone who may want to be anonymous has that option. However, an avatar provides a better means for communication. People who find meeting others to be difficult may find this app is a great way to gain new friends.

Ease of Use

The interface of the app is both colorful and playful. Choices for users will be displayed in tabs that are circular. This makes the app simple to navigate. Another benefit for users is being able to just swipe the screen to switch between various screens and available options.

Activities

Performing many of the activities in the Skout app will require the use of in-app currency or points that can easily be acquired. Sometimes they give them away on Facebook and Twitter, but they can generally be bought. Users can make an in-app purchase or by performing various tasks. Tasks will often involve engaging with advertisers.

Safety

User safety is a primary concern for Skout. A user needs to be at least 14 years old to create a profile to use for one of two communities. There is a Teenagers community and an Adult community depending on the age of a user. Each community is separate and helps Skout to be an app that is safe for people to engage and chat.

Additional Information

Skout is a location-based service that uses the GPS of a smartphone or WiFI hotspot to find people in a local area. The service started out as a social network for mobile web users back in 2007. The iOS app was launched in 2009 and the Android app in 2010.

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Nov 21

Apple Announces Plans for Beats Music

Early next year, two giants in the music industry may be joining forces.

It was reported that Apple plans to bundle Beats Music with its iOS software, used for all Apple devices. Apple had already purchased the subscription-based music service for #3 billion. Since Apple’s operating system reaches so many customers, this merger has the potential to give Apple a boost against competing streaming services like YouTube and Spotify.

Apple is also reportedly trying to lower streaming rates for their customers, The New York Times reported. Potentially, they would allow customers to spend a total of $5 a month for Beats Music. Since its launch in early 2014, Beats has charged per subscription, unlike Spotify’s free service with ads.

Beats has only gotten 110,000 subscribers so far compared to Spotify’s 50 million, but perhaps the bundle with iOS software will bridge this gap. I just know me and Zeca Oliveira are hoping that it doesn’t take until 2016 for Beats to start spreading into Brazil.

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Nov 06

Russians Remove iPhone Statue That Promotes “Sodomy”

Since 2013, a giant sculpture of an iPhone has stood as a high tech symbol near a university campus in St. Petersburg. However, the large replica of one of the world’s most popular smartphones was taken down by the same company that initially installed the fixture. A spokesperson for the Russian company ZEFS has claimed that the iPhone statue directly promotes homosexual propaganda because Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is openly gay. An official statement that Sam Tabar found, released by ZEFS accused Cook of publicly calling for sodomy by promoting homosexuality and rejecting traditional family values. Maxim Dolgopolov, the head of ZEFS, is now urging all Russians to dump the iPhone because of its affiliation with sodomy. Taken even further, he claims that this American smartphone poses a greater danger than drugs and tobacco.

The actions and statements of ZEFS are not surprising considering that the Russian Federation has recently passed a series of laws restricting the public display of anything related to homosexuality. Earlier in 2014, there have been protests that called for the boycott of Sochi Winter Olympic Games because of Russia’s anti-gay laws. However, the lawmakers in Russia did not respond to the growing pressure from the international community even as the world gathered for the games.

The removal of the iPhone statue in St. Petersburg can also be seen as a direct response to the economic sanctions that the United States has imposed on Russia.

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Nov 03

Apple Ceo Tim Cook Announces that He’s Gay

Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that he was homosexual in a recent article in Bloomberg Business Week. Although he says that many of his colleagues were already aware of this fact, and that his workplace has always been accepting of his sexual orientation, Cook felt that it was time to acknowledge his homosexuality publicly.

As the CEO of one of America’s most successful companies, Tim Cook had tried to keep his personal life out of the spotlight up until now, for reasons of privacy. However, by making his sexual orientation public, Cook feels that his stature can be helpful to the LGBT community on both a public and personal level. “So if hearing that the CEO if Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then its worth the trade-off on my own privacy.” stated Cook.

Equal rights for the gay community are very important to Cook, and he is fully aware of the discrimination that LGBT people face everyday, in the workplace and elsewhere. His own home state of Alabama has a law in place which allows employers to terminate people due to their sexual orientation, which is why Jared was surprised that this was even able to happen. By opening the door to his private life, Cook can help make more progress and increase tolerance to make such injustices a thing of the past.

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Oct 31

A Confusing Explanation Of Pay Blocking From CurrentC?

Apple Pay users were in an uproar after being unable to pay at major retailers. On Saturday, a few issues seemed to take down the mobile payment product’s ability to mesh with certain stores. Apple Pay was the main reason Marnie got the iPhone 6+ so she was understandably pretty angry.

The problem is that the company involved, MCX, doesn’t seem to have a lot of answers on the issue.

Stores such as Best Buy and Walmart use a platform called CurrentC, an app from MCX designed to handle mobile device payments with an app. The system should be allowing payments to process, and the new troubles come amidst a recent report that user data in the form of email addresses had been stolen by hackers.

In a conference call for a press question and answer session, MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson discussed the issues with the payment system. He mentioned that there aren’t any technical hurdles to stop different retailers from providing customers with Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Moneybrokers or similar support systems in addition to CurrentC.

According to Davidson, the choice is made by the specific stores based on what they feel the users want. In a confusing follow-up statement, Davidson suggested that there may be a limitation preventing multiple payment platforms from being used in the future.

Davidson declined to speculate on the hacking incident’s relationship to the ongoing pay difficulties.

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Oct 30

Text Messages Used To Set Up Washington School Shooting

The most recent U.S. school shooting perpetrator used his mobile phone to set up his evil scheme. 15 year old Jaylen Fryberg sent text messages to five friends who were all invited to the cafeteria.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that Jaylen lured in all five of his victims to sit with him at a lunch table at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington state. The distressed and armed freshman walked into the cafeteria and opened fire on all five victims who were sitting together. The horrific shooting left two classmates dead and three wounded. Short after, Jaylen turned the gun on himself in a classic murder-suicide scheme.

The weapon that was used to carry out this shooting was a .40-caliber Beretta, which has been linked to a license and registration of Jaylen’s relative. However, the local police department is still investigating exactly how the teenager got his hands on the gun.

The tragedy at Marysville-Pilchuck High School brings back some memories of other notorious shootings such as those that occurred at Columbine High School in 1999 and Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013. Such shootings are nothing short of massacres by perpetrators who had some things in common.

Some rumors indicate that Jaylen had been teased and bullied despite being a popular king who was honored as homecoming prince. It’s also believed that Adam Lanza was also a victim of bullying and that prompted him to kill more than two dozen children in Newtown, Connecticut. However, all school shootings ultimately shine some light on gun control issues. It’s enraging to hear about teenagers illegally getting their hands on firearms.

An unfortunate example of how iPhones and technology, including dependence on smart phones are really changing the face of the planet, sometimes not for the better.  Makes you think…Thanks Sam Tabar for sharing.

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