Apple's missed opportunities for alliances with government and academia

Apple appears to be a company in crisis as the stock closed at $392.05 Thursday, down a whopping 44% from its lofty heights in late September 2012. The only people happy about this move are the short sellers who are having a field day. Many have forgotten how fickle consumers can be about technology and brand loyalty is incredibly difficult to sustain. Michael Dell can attest to that.

There have been ominous signs of trouble for some time now though. Leap Wireless and their Cricket brand made a huge gamble with their purchasing commitment for $900 million of iPhones but consumer demand has been soft for the iPhone 5 and the company is likely to lose millions. Consumers have simply decided that the differences between their iPhone 4S and a newer model are rather insignificant or that better deals are to be had with the popular Samsung Galaxy line, which reached a milestone of 100 million units sold by the end of last year.

So where did it all go wrong for a cash-rich company with so many Apple converts worldwide? A recent apology by Apple CEO, Tim Cook, to China, was indicative of Apple’s recent frustration with slowing sales and perhaps missed opportunities in the most rapidly expanding nation. Business penetration has been extremely lacking, which is quite surprising given the superiority of their server technologies. Moreover, in terms of security, the iPhone is arguable superior to just about any Android smartphone and the latest encryption technologies found on Macs can stand up to just about any computer.


Lost and found in cyberspace

In case you've been in a cave for a while, there is a fair amount of (not unreasonable) anxiety these days about rules of the road for cyberspace. Controversial topics include: privacy for electronic records, location tagging of devices, tracking Internet history for online advertising, mining of "big data" for all sorts of business, government and research purposes, perpetuating "too much information" on social media, remote computing and storage in "the Cloud," transferring personal data across international borders, hacking for all sorts of nefarious purposes, denial of service attacks against major financial institutions, monitoring communications for law enforcement and national security, and commanding cybersecurity protections for critical networks and company secrets. And all of that before we even have ubiquitous deployment of powerful facial recognition technology, omnipresent domestic drones, pervasive online gambling, powerful computing eyewear, and of course the next new thing.


Internet pricing: The next policy frontier

In the past few years, broadband providers have begun shifting toward tiered service plans (sometimes known as usage-based pricing) that offer customers a fixed amount of data each month for a fee. On average, less than 2 percent of users exceed the most commonly-used tier of 300 GB; nearly 80% of consumers never exceed even 50 GB per month.

Nevertheless, some critics such as Public Knowledge and the New America Foundation are concerned that this trend may bring higher prices and reduced service. Most recently, NAF analyst Benjamin Lennett asked whether tiered service plans are a plot by cable companies to eliminate Internet-based competitors such as Netflix, which alone generates one-third of all North American download traffic.


New tax requirements would be burden for e-tailers

The Internet has given anyone with the power of an idea the opportunity to launch a small business that can reach customers from coast to coast – driving growth, creating jobs, and empowering small business owners. Consumers have reaped the benefits of greater choice, lower prices, and more convenience.
But where some see progress, tax collectors see opportunity.
Officials in cash-strapped states across the country are looking for new ways to plug budget holes – and they’re asking Washington for help. They see online businesses as an irresistible source of new tax revenue – and they want to cross state lines to get it.


In tech sector optimism is good, tangible progress is better

For several years, the prevailing narrative across the country is that our nation’s Capital has gone from bad to impossible, with each side willing to cut off its nose to spite the other’s face. But after spending time recently with congressional leaders and the president, the tech sector sees reason for cautious optimism that progress is possible. In our discussions last week, there were encouraging signs that both parties recognize the magnitude of the challenges facing the country and are willing to take the first tentative steps toward solutions that advance our national interest.


We must bridge rural digital divide in America

It’s often said that success has a thousand parents, but that failure is an orphan. But in today’s strange political climate, it seems failure also has plenty of paternity.  
The political right wants to ape European-style fiscal austerity to cure our national debt – a policy that has been disastrous in Europe – while some on the very far left want to adopt the European Union’s (EU) policies on the broadband Internet.  And while both are wrong, the dangers of the EU broadband Internet approach are slightly less obvious.


A short and long-term solution to America's STEM crisis

During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Intel founder and CEO Andrew Grove used to say that a green card should come stapled to every science Ph.D. awarded in the United States. Grove, an immigrant from Hungary, was hardly joking. At a time when companies were scrambling for talent, foreign-born scientists and engineers were a key to filling the gap and helping companies in America compete globally and create good U.S. jobs. Fifteen years later they still are.


Understanding motives of recent cyber attacks against US

The political and economic forces at work both in China and Iran help explain their motives for conducting offensive [and effective] hacking raids on public and private assets in the U.S.

Iran, despite sitting atop the 4th largest proven oil and 2nd largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, has devolved into a pariah nation with a cash-starved population and flailing political economy. According to January’s CRS Report for Congress, that nation saw its crude exports – which supply 70 percent of Iran’s shrinking government revenues - halve from 2011 to 2012.


Reforming patents for innovation

Despite the reforms passed by Congress two years ago, it's no secret that our software patent framework remains out-of-step with the realities of innovation in the modern technology sector.

Patents are too easy to acquire, particularly for vague, low-quality features that the Patent & Trademark Office’s founders – luminaries like Thomas Jefferson – would never have considered “inventions” at all. It is now a fact of life that companies have to spend their resources litigating - offensively and defensively - over patents instead of on research and development.


When content theft is hate

For Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere of New Jersey, the photo was a beautiful reminder of the day they were engaged. Instead, the iconic photo of the two men kissing was stolen by an anti-gay group and used in a political mailer to attack a Colorado state Senate’s support for gay marriage. While there is no doubt that their likeness was misappropriated and the photographer’s work was stolen, really something more happened here: Brian and Tom were the victims of hate.
It’s a teenager’s worst nightmare: provocative photos are stolen and posted online by classmates who want to ruin your life. Or an ex-boyfriend lets the world see a sex-video that you thought was just for you and him. It’s called “slut-shaming,” and it’s the latest and most vicious form of cyber bullying.