Tag Archives: tech industry

That used iPhone? Here’s what happens before you buy it

When it came time for Caleb Gonsalves to buy a new iPhone earlier this year, he didn’t run to the nearest Apple store. Instead, he headed to the website of reseller Gazelle to search for a used iPhone 6, saving himself money and the pain of waiting another year for his wireless contract to end.

“The idea I could just sell back a phone [an iPhone 5S]…and put the money to a new phone that was discounted…was amazing,” said Gonsalves, a 27-year-old executive at a tech startup based in Boston.

He ended up trading in a 32-gigabyte iPhone 5S for $216 and applied the cash to help pay for a used 64GB iPhone 6 from Gazelle that cost $401. At the time, a new version of that phone would have cost $749.

Gonsalves isn’t alone when it comes to buying and selling used phones online.

As the US wireless market moves away from traditional two-year contracts, more consumers are upgrading their phones at a faster clip, while looking for ways to do it on the cheap. Device resellers like Gazelle are benefiting from that trend by offering affordable alternatives in used smartphones. Since the iPhone 6S hit the market in late September, about 100,000 iPhones have been traded in to Gazelle, a level in line with the typical trade-in number during “S” generations, the company said. Apple tends to do major redesigns every other year, opting for more subtle changes in the off-year denoted by the “S” in the product name.

Most of Gazelle’s business revolves around the iPhone, but it also buys and sells Android devices. And it’s not the only company in this market. eBay, uSell and various other companies also have businesses related to used mobile devices.

Gazelle, based in Boston, got its start offering consumers a place to sell their old or unwanted electronic wares. Last year it opened up an online storefront to sell them back to you, and it has since moved 50,000 iPhones.

“As subsidies have been taken away from carriers, folks are realizing their iPhone habit is a $650 habit, not $200,” Gazelle Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Welch said. “There has been an explosion in demand for high-quality used phones.”

To see what happens to those iPhones before they reach new buyers’ hands, CNET visited Gazelle’s facility in Louisville, Kentucky, for a behind-the-scenes glimpse.

To sell a smartphone, consumers go to Gazelle’s site and describe the phone’s condition as “broken,” “good” or “flawless” and then receive an estimate for its value. The company then sends a prepaid box to the consumer, who has 30 days to return it with the phone to the Louisville facility. The long window allows sellers to lock in a high price before the newest iPhone is announced, but gives them time to upgrade before sending off the old phone.

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Steve Jobs’ legacy includes the women he inspired

Women played a key role in helping create the Macintosh. Some of the women on the original Mac team share how Jobs pushed them to extraordinary levels of creativity.

The lore of Apple’s success goes something like this. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak start Apple in a Silicon Valley garage, with the crazy goal of building the first personal computer for regular people. Eight years later, Jobs introduces the Macintosh, shocking the world with its intuitive, iconic interface and creating a cult following. After his exile from Apple, Jobs returns to reinvent and popularize the digital music player, smartphone and tablet. Apple literally changes how we interact with the world.

But that story often leaves out all the others, including dozens of women, involved in Jobs’ first big bet, 1984’s Macintosh. Like everyone else on the original Mac team, these 20-somethings put in grueling hours to create a machine that could live up to the vision of Apple’s brilliant and volatile leader.

Graphic designer Susan Kare dreamed up the Mac’s icons and created some of its original typefaces, including the Chicago, Geneva and Monaco fonts. Joanna Hoffman focused on a “user experience” that made people feel as if they could, for the first time, make the computer do what they wanted. Other women oversaw manufacturing, finance, marketing and public relations.

“The bottom line is, Steve just cared if you were insanely great or not,” said Guy Kawasaki, who joined Apple in 1983 and was the Mac’s first chief evangelist. “He didn’t care about sex, color, creed — anything like that. You were either great or you’re not. You’re either great or you sucked. That’s it. That’s all he cared about.”

Apple didn’t provide a comment for this report.

The new movie “Steve Jobs” by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle hints at some of the contributions of the women of the Mac team, primarily through the character of Hoffman, who was Apple’s head of international marketing. Played by Kate Winslet, Hoffman was Jobs’ confidante and colleague, able to challenge him when no one else could.

“Joanna was the one who represented all of us in learning how to stand up to Steve,” said Debi Coleman, who joined Apple in 1981 as controller for Jobs’ Macintosh project. “That’s one of the reasons she’s a heroine to me.”

Hoffman declined to be interviewed, but three prominent women from the team agreed to talk about the movie, Jobs’ impact on their lives and what it was like working with Jobs, who died in 2011 at the age of 56. The trio are Coleman, who later became head of Macintosh manufacturing; Susan Barnes, controller of the Macintosh division; and Andrea “Andy” Cunningham who, as an account executive for the Regis McKenna public relations firm, planned what turned out to be the tech industry’s biggest PR campaign at the time.

On Monday, Cunningham hosted a panel in Palo Alto, California, where the three women talked about how Jobs challenged, infuriated and pushed them to achieve great things. They were joined by Hoffman and Barbara Koalkin Barza, a former product marketing manager for the Mac and later director of marketing at Pixar, the animation studio Jobs bought after being fired from Apple in 1985.

Jobs “made it possible for you to do anything you wanted,” Cunningham said. The women of the Mac team “had the freedom to do what we were good at doing.”

Hoffman, speaking during the panel Monday, said “what is true is that so often Steve was so enthusiastic and so brilliant and visionary and not necessary reasonable.” And Barza noted that “Steve had a laser focus on details,” which is a something she has taken to heart throughout her career.

Here are a few of their other stories.

Music’s charms

“Billie Jean is not my lover/She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one/But the kid is not my son/She says I am the one/But the kid is not my son.” — lyrics to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

Introducing a major product is a lot like planning a crucial battle. Both can succeed or fail on the campaign’s logistics. For the January 24, 1984, introduction of the Mac, those logistics included the then-unheard-of idea of “multiple exclusives,” in which Apple served up different slices of information to leading US publications.

About two weeks before the Mac’s launch, Cunningham and Jobs flew to the tony Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side. They had reserved a suite for several days’ of one-on-one interviews and photo shoots.

There was just one wrinkle: Jobs “absolutely hated” having his picture taken and would turn “surly and kinda nasty” with the photographer, recalled Cunningham.

The soothing sounds of music came to the rescue.

“I discovered he loved Michael Jackson and the song ‘Billie Jean,'” she said. “And I discovered that when I played it on a cassette player, he became really docile and friendly and smiled for the cameraman. As soon as the song was over, he would go back to his snarling self.”

The cassette player got plenty of exercise. (His musical choice is ironic given that he was in a paternity battle with the mother of his eldest daughter, Lisa, before the Mac was unveiled.)

“While we were doing the shoot, I was constantly rewinding, rewinding, rewinding,” Cunningham said. “It calmed the waters.”

The waters had been seething since 10 p.m. the night before, when Jobs, Cunningham and Cunningham’s colleague, Jane Anderson, arrived at the hotel. For Jobs, the suite didn’t have the right vibe for the interviews.

So Cunningham and Anderson rearranged the furniture to Jobs’ liking, even pushing the suite’s baby grand piano to where he said it needed to be to create the best atmosphere for the meetings.

“Finally, at 2 a.m. he says to me, ‘I want a vase of those flowers that have the green stems, and they’re really long and at the top they’re kind of white and are very simple and flare out like this,'” Cunningham recalled. “I’d say, ‘Oh, OK, you want Calla lilies.’ And he’s like, ‘No! That’s not what I want.’ And he goes on to describe them again.”

Cunningham did find the Calla lilies that early January morning in New York.

Adult supervision

Silicon Valley joke circa 1981: “What’s the difference between Apple Computer and the Boy Scouts? The Boy Scouts have adult supervision.”

Coleman likes to recall that joke when describing her early years at Apple.

Jobs was a “tall, thin, unkempt, Jesus-freak looking guy” when she was introduced to him. The setting was The Good Earth, then one of Silicon Valley’s most popular restaurants. It’s where Coleman ran into Jobs and Trip Hawkins, an Apple employee who had been her college classmate and would later found video game maker Electronic Arts.

“Trip introduced me and told him, ‘She’s not your usual bean counter.’ With those words, Steve chased me for six months to join his team, which I did not realize was an unsanctioned project.”

It didn’t take long, though, for Coleman to discover that Apple didn’t share the famously genteel corporate culture at Hewlett-Packard, where she had previously worked.

“[Steve] would come marching down the hall or skipping down the hall, calling…’What an idiot. I can’t believe you did this stupid thing.'”

Coleman said it took her a year to learn how to confront Jobs. She credits Hoffman for serving as her teacher. “Joanna said, ‘Look him in the eye. You’ve got to stand up.’ From that point on — I’m not saying he wasn’t tough, totally demanding and totally critical — but he was totally wonderful to me.”

Sounding board

In some ways, that ability to stand up to Jobs was as critical for him as it was for the person confronting his verbal abuse.

“You had to stand up to him,” Barnes said. “He knew he was forming ideals and gelling them, and you had to be able to be his sounding board.”


Despite the insults, those who learned to interact with Jobs describe the experience as intellectually stimulating, compelling and fun.

“His real skill was knowing which buttons to push,” said Barnes. “The thing that kept me going with him was the intellectual spark. He could get so much out of you. He drove a high standard.”

“You weren’t judged as a woman,” she added. “You didn’t have to worry about what you wore and how you wore it. It was about your intellect, your brain and your contributions.”

Jobs put Coleman in charge of Mac manufacturing in 1984, making her one of the highest-ranking women in the computer industry. She later became chief financial officer of all of Apple in 1987, after Jobs had left the company. Coleman most recently served as co-founder and co-managing partner at venture capital firm SmartForest Ventures from 2000 to June 2015.

Barnes co-founded NeXT Computer with Jobs and became its chief financial officer. She went into investment banking after leaving NeXT and later served as financial chief at Intuitive Surgical. Barnes currently holds that same title at Pacific Biosciences, a DNA sequencing company. Cunningham left Regis McKenna to form her own PR firm and helped Jobs launch Pixar. She currently runs Cunningham Collective, a consulting firm.

“When you’re in an environment where you’re respected for what you do and not…your gender or age, it’s really refreshing,” Cunningham said. “That’s what Steve offered back then.”

For more on the team behind the Mac, check out CNET’s Macintosh 30th anniversary package from January 2014.

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European vote puts Net neutrality in peril

The European Parliament passes legislation that would let companies pay to prioritize their Internet traffic. Opponents included Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and the likes of Netflix and Reddit.

The European Parliament has rejected key rules designed to secure the future of the open Internet, potentially threatening the way residents get their online fix.

Members of the European Parliament voted Tuesday to allow companies to pay for the privilege of having their traffic prioritized in “fast lanes” and did not eliminate the potential for Internet service providers to change traffic speeds.

For consumers, that could over time prove disruptive to their daily habits of watching streaming video, uploading photos to social media sites or doing online shopping. Some services could bog down if providers don’t pay for access to higher Internet speeds, or speedy services could end up costing more.

Four significant amendments were rejected just before the Parliament voted to adopt legislation governing Net neutrality, the concept that all online traffic should be treated equally. A premise behind Net neutrality is that every company can start on equal footing when competing in the digital economy.

The European Parliament’s decision contributes to a global and ongoing debate over the openness of the Internet. By adopting the law but rejecting the amendments, Europe has set itself apart from the US, which earlier this year voted to strengthen Net neutrality. Rejecting the amendments may make the Internet a trickier place for online services to do business in Europe, both technically and economically. It also means European Internet users can’t continue to go online with the same expectations of traffic equality that they have now.

Internet service providers, however, say the increased flexibility in the rules will help them manage online traffic. The ability to charge for priority access will also encourage further investment in network infrastructure, the ISPs say.

“There can be no doubt that the Internet is a valuable asset,” Member of European Parliament Pilar del Castillo Vera, who steered the legislation, said immediately following the vote. “It is full of opportunities for all. We need to handle this asset very carefully.”

The rejected amendments were supported by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and a long list of rights groups, academics and businesses, including Netflix, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy and BitTorrent. In a blog post ahead of the vote, Berners-Lee reminded politicians that he built the Web on the principle of openness and that this principle led to its current ubiquity.

The amendments ensure “economic growth and social progress” in Europe, he said in a blog post. Rejecting them would “threaten innovation, free speech and privacy, and compromise Europe’s ability to lead in the digital economy,” he added.

Rights groups and some Parliament members expressed dismay over the rejection and offered their take on what will happen next.

“The fight for Net Neutrality is not over,” said Estelle Masse, a policy analyst for digital rights organization Access Now. By rejecting the amendments, Masse said, Parliament has left it up to courts and national regulators to determine the meaning of the law.

What will follow is a nine-month consultation period during which rights groups and regulators will seek to clarify the legal text and to establish how the Internet should be governed. “The EU telecoms regulators are now tasked to finish the work started by the EU legislators to ensure that free expression online is protected,” Masse said.

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Twitter fails to nab new tweeters

Twitter and its new CEO Jack Dorsey still face plenty of challenges as they work to convince more people to spend time on the microblogging site.

Do you use Twitter?

If you answered “no” or “sometimes,” you’re in the great majority. In fact, more people around the world spend time on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram than they do on the microblogging service.

Worse, relatively few consumers feel the need to sign up. That’s bad news for Twitter, which has seen its growth of monthly active users grind almost to a halt.

That’s the problem CEO Jack Dorsey is working hard to reverse. To do that, though, he has to freshen the look and functions of a 9-year-old service that’s become stale. Despite Twitter’s outsize cultural influence, its claims to distinction are immediacy and a 140-word character limit on how much you can say in a tweet. Now Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and first CEO until 2008, is rebooting the service to be more compelling.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco-based company updated the service with Moments, a new feature of curated tweets, videos and images of major trending events, such as concerts, sports contests and breaking news. On Tuesday, Dorsey told investors that Moments allow users to discover other members’ Tweets, expanding the usefulness of the information on the service.

“I see it as one source, one conversation piece that makes all of Twitter better,” he said.

This month Dorsey also told employees he’s streamlining operations and reorganizing Twitter’s product and engineering teams to focus on “the experiences which will have the greatest impact.” On Tuesday, Dorsey said Moments and other projects are an attempt to reimagine Twitter’s fundamentals.

In addition, Dorsey is making a concerted effort to woo developers to start writing apps for the messaging service. All these efforts have one aim: To make Twitter more inviting and engaging for a mainstream audience and, in turn, attract more advertisers.

JMP Securities analyst Ron Josey said it’s unlikely Twitter will demonstrate fast growth anytime soon.

“It’s likely not going to be one silver bullet to change the trajectory of their engagement,” he said, referring to the number of users. “It will take multiple products to see some changes.”

On Tuesday, Twitter reported third-quarter results that show it will take time and patience for Dorsey to achieve his goal.

“We continued to see strong financial performance this quarter, as well as meaningful progress across our three areas of focus,” Dorsey said in a statement. “We’ve simplified our roadmap and organization around a few big bets across Twitter, Periscope, and Vine that we believe represent our largest opportunities for growth.”

For the three months ended in September, the number of people actively using Twitter every month rose 1.2 percent from the previous quarter to 320 million.

The company also reported a profit, excluding some costs, of 10 cents a share on sales of $569 million. That beat Wall Street’s estimates. Analysts on average expected a profit, minus some costs, of 5 cents a share on $559.8 million in revenue.

After adding expenses back in, Twitter posted a loss of 20 cents per share.

For the current quarter, Twitter forecast revenue of $695 million to $710 million. That dramatically missed analysts’ estimates of $740.2 million.

Investors weren’t happy with either the forecast or Twitter’s progress in adding users, sending shares down more than 12 percent, to $27.56, in after-hours trading.

During Tuesday’s conference call with investors, Dorsey didn’t mention specifics about the company’s product roadmap, reiterating the need to make Twitter easier for users. Dorsey and other executives declined to project user growth, but said about 1 billion people each month see tweets on sites and apps outside of Twitter.

Also Tuesday, Twitter executives said they were ramping up the company’s own marketing, including airing an ad during Game 1 of the 2015 World Series telecast later that evening.

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Security trumps privacy as Senate passes controversial cyber bill

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, known as CISA, could make it easier for the government to abuse citizens’ civil liberties, opponents say.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, known as CISA, could make it easier for the government to abuse citizens’ civil liberties, opponents say.

In contrast, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken was among the 21 senators voting against CISA and quickly expressed his disappointment. “There is a pressing need for meaningful, effective cybersecurity legislation that balances privacy and security: this bill doesn’t do that,” he said in a statement.

Apple, Twitter and Dropbox declined to comment on the passage of the bill, though they all opposed the bill before its passage.

The vote Tuesday marks the end of a five-year struggle to encourage companies to share information about cyberthreats with the Department of Homeland Security. CISA was first introduced in 2014 but failed to reach the Senate before that session of Congress ended. Two years ago, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was approved by the House, but died in the Senate.

President Barack Obama said he supports the bill.

High-profile cyberattacks on government agencies and companies such as Sony, United, and Ashley Madison might have prompted the Senate to approve the bill, security experts say.

“With security breaches like T-mobile, Target, and OPM becoming the norm, Congress knows it needs to do something about cybersecurity,” Mark Jaycox of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a statement Tuesday. “It chose to do the wrong thing.”

At issue is the fact that CISA allows companies to share information directly with law enforcement and intelligence organizations. Even more troubling, that information can include email, text messages and other data that can identify individuals. Companies are supposed to delete that information before they send it, but there’s always the chance that our “personal identifiers” could still slip through.

“I do not believe [CISA] imposes a sufficiently stringent standard for the removal of irrelevant personally identifiable information,” Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in a letter to Franken. The bill as written “raises privacy and civil liberties concerns,” Mayorkas noted.

After the vote Tuesday, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted the names of senators who approved the bill.

CISA now heads to a conference of Congress members who will match the passed Senate and House bills before sending it to Obama’s desk.

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Hello, Halo 5: Microsoft’s fresh take on the popular game

From CNET Magazine: The Halo video game universe is about to expand with new characters and storylines. Will passionate fans like what they see? 

I’m sitting inside the armory wing of a Pelican dropship, more than 500 years in the future, getting ready to wage all-out war. The other Spartan supersoldiers, like me, are 7-foot-tall genetically augmented humans clad in 1,000-pound armor.

An arrow in my heads-up display tells me to approach a raised, hexagonal platform where the hologram of our commander briefs my fellow soldiers and me on our mission. She explains our objectives and shows us detailed 3D tours of the terrain we’re about to fight on.

We move to our battle stations, ready to strike our first blow.

In reality, I’m seated in an elaborate set on the show floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center — chilled by full-blast AC against the June heat — during the marketing extravaganza known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. I’m also wearing Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset, which analyzes my surroundings and floats 3D images before my eyes.

This is the closest I may ever get to experiencing life inside the universe of Halo, the science fiction series that made shooting video games the most successful and beloved genre of a generation. Thanks to Microsoft, which owns the Halo brand, I’m getting a firsthand taste of Halo’s new look.

The illusion breaks when I remove the HoloLens and head off to an Xbox game controller to play Halo 5: Guardians. Due out October 27, the next major installment in the Halo series represents Microsoft’s big push to persuade players to plunk down about $350, £300 or AU$500 for its upgraded Xbox One game console. Blockbuster titles like Halo drive console sales, and Microsoft has waited nearly two years to deliver a game like Guardians.

If that sounds awfully weighty for a new game, think of it in cinematic terms. Halo is the video game equivalent of Star Wars. It’s a sweeping space opera about humanity’s ongoing struggle against hostile alien species. Players assume the role of Spartan John-117, also known as Master Chief, as he fights galactic battles with advanced civilizations. Over the Internet, gamers can mix it up in complex, multiplayer combat where an enemy player can up the stakes with a rocket launcher, a tank or a walking armored vehicle nearly two stories high.

The HoloLens adds a new wrinkle. Although Microsoft doesn’t commercially sell the headset — yet — it points to the future of video games: rooted in storytelling and delivered by technology that plunges us smack into the center of this alien world.

The trick is making sure players stay along for the ride.

Shining legacy

Three years in the making, Guardians will debut exclusively for Microsoft’s Xbox One. While it’s the fifth entry in the series, it’s only the second from Microsoft’s in-house studio 343 Industries, or 343i — named after an advanced artificial intelligence in Halo’s fictional world.

Microsoft created 343i specifically to shepherd Halo after the series’ creator, Bungie, split from the company in 2007 to make new games on its own. Microsoft’s studio released Halo 4 three years ago, receiving high marks from critics and earning $220 million the first day of its release and $300 million in its first week.

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Apple Store’s new Fifth Avenue neighbor? Microsoft

Microsoft has found a home in the Big Apple for showcasing its products and services — five blocks south of Apple’s own flagship store.

NEW YORK — The Fifth Avenue Apple store, known as the Cube, is a destination for gadget enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Just five blocks south on the famed street, Microsoft is hoping to capture that same chic with a flagship store of its own.

The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant will open the doors to its newest, and biggest, store on Monday. To attract crowds, the company is offering tickets at the grand opening for a concert later that evening with rapper Pitbull.

The Microsoft store is just the latest attempt by the company to build a stronger relationship with consumers and to bring back some excitement to its products and services. After years of letting its hardware partners sell products running its software, Microsoft is looking to have a more direct hand in pushing Windows 10 to consumers.

Customers walking into the space, which was previously occupied by Italian fashion retailer Fendi, will immediately see the latest products from Microsoft. The first two tables display the Surface Book, the much buzzed about laptop-tablet combination the company showed off earlier this month, as well as theSurface Pro 4, the updated version of its work-friendly tablet.

Beyond size and a second level, Microsoft’s newest store is similar to the rest of the more than 110 Microsoft shops in North America. There’s a lot of space and many bright lights, along with areas devoted to different facets of Windows 10, from products created by its hardware partners to Microsoft smartphones to its Xbox One video game console. Tech support can be found upstairs, along with two spaces for classes and workshops that deal with Windows 10 devices and software.

The highlight of the shop is an eye-catching 30-foot promotional display made up of 36 screens packed tightly together. That’s flanked by an array of displays that run along each side of the store and show off Microsoft products. According to the store’s senior manager, Bill Madden, they could also be used to stream local community events such as a parade in Times Square. The new store is also the only Microsoft outlet to feature the company’s massive Surface Hub touchscreen display.

Outside, the store’s facade features a “culture wall.” In the evenings it will show digital works by local artists, though the company hasn’t nailed down the details of the art that will be displayed.

Given the high-profile location, the store will serve more as a kind of interactive billboard than a simple retail outlet. Madden declined to comment on any expectations of how much revenue the store will generate.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk denies hating Apple

Technically Incorrect: Tesla’s CEO tries to set the record straight after being quoted as saying that Apple hires the automaker’s engineering castoffs and the Apple Watch isn’t all that.

When you’re a famous CEO, you end up giving so many interviews that you might forget what you’ve said in them all.

You might also give interviews on particular days when you’re in particular moods. This can lead to particular articles being published that you particularly regret.

So it is, perhaps, with an interview in which Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave to Germany’s Handelsblatt. In it, he suggested — jokingly?– that the Cupertino, California, tech titan hires Tesla’s engineering castoffs.

“Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch? No, seriously,” he said of Apple’s alleged foray into cars. “It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches.”

Some wondered whether Apple and Tesla had endured a falling out. It had once been rumored that the two companies might come together.

Thankfully, Musk took to Twitter on Friday to dismiss the very notion that he and Apple weren’t BFFs.

“Yo, I don’t hate Apple,” he first tweeted. “It’s a great company with a lot of talented people. I love their products and I’m glad they’re doing an EV.”

Those of punctilious mien might suggest that Apple’s “talented people” still just weren’t talented enough to work for Tesla. They might also muse that Musk seems to know definitively that Apple is making an electronic vehicle. Might that be because the alleged castoffs from Tesla who now work at Apple have told him?

Musk followed up with another tweet addressing his views on the Watch. “Regarding the watch, Jony & his team created a beautiful design, but the functionality isn’t compelling yet. By version 3, it will be.”

Translation: Version 2 will still be an inadequate lump of beautiful design.

Commenters on Musk’s tweets weren’t all amused. Someone called Joe Zou suggested that Tesla’s CEO was merely jealous that the Apple Watch made more profit in three months than Tesla will in 2015.

However, my favorite act of pure opportunism came from Henry Levak.

He offered: “Can I send you a Pebble Time Steel in the meantime? :)” Levak is the director of product at Pebble.

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Sony hack’s invasion of privacy still grates on CEO

Nearly a year after a crippling hack, the studio’s boss says he was distressed by how some people combed leaked emails for embarrassing information.

Almost a year after a massive hack crippled Sony Entertainment, it’s still a sore subject with CEO Michael Lynton.

The breach, which was revealed in November, damaged computers, leaked financial documents, and revealed the inner workings of the studio. In addition to causing so much damage that the company essentially shut down for several weeks, hackers leaked then-unreleased movies and the personal information of more than 47,000 celebrities, freelancers, and current and former Sony employees.

But what seemed to capture the bulk of the attention was the release of a trove of embarrassing e-mails between executives at the film and TV arm of Japanese tech and media conglomerate Sony. For Lynton, the fervor with which some people combed through those emails was most troubling.

“The part that was distressing was the extent to which people decided to go through it,” Lynton said Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco. Speaking at a panel on the Sony hack and cybersecurity, Lynton said he still hasn’t reviewed the emails of his that were leaked.

“Of course, my correspondence was public, especially after Julian Assange decided to WikiLeaks it. But I haven’t even been back through it,” he said. Others have, though, and they aren’t coy about admitting it, he said.

“People come up to me at lunch and say, ‘I just read your correspondence with so-and-so, and it was interesting,'” he said. “To me, that’s an odd way to spend an afternoon.”

Lynton saved his harshest criticism for members of the media who chose to publish details of the emails, which often represented shocking invasions of privacy and caused damage to individual reputations. The contents of some emails sent by Sony Pictures’ co-chair Amy Pascal were linked to her eventual resignation.

“There was tremendous unrest among the folks at the studio…I don’t think it’s correct to be publishing those e-mails,” Lynton said. “I don’t think they were newsworthy. It sort of built on itself.”

Lynton isn’t the only tech figure to feel that way about the hack. Evan Spiegel, CEO of messaging service Snapchat, said in December that he was “angry” and “devastated” that information about his startup’s business plan was revealed in emails with Lynton that were part of the leak.

Traced by the FBI to North Korea, the hackers were apparently trying to prevent the release of the satirical movie “The Interview,” which depicts actors Seth Rogen and James Franco as TV journalists drawn into a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In response to threats against theaters, Sony initially canceled the movie’s release but relented in the face of mounting public pressure and criticism.

Sony Entertainment also came under fire from former employees, who sued the studio claiming that the personal information stolen in the hack made them vulnerable to identity theft. The lawsuit, which sought class-action certification, claimed Sony knew before the breach that its computer systems were not secure enough to protect confidential employee information, which included Social Security numbers, home addresses and health care records.

Court records showed in September that Sony had agreed to settle the lawsuit, although financial details were not revealed.

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Steve Jobs lauded by Apple execs on fourth anniversary of his death

CEO Tim Cook, iTunes head Eddy Cue and others remember Apple’s co-founder in messages posted to the company’s internal site. One recalls the time Jobs mooned Al Gore.

 Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died four years ago today. To mark the anniversary, CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives paid tribute to the man and his legacy.

In an email sent Monday to Apple employees, Cook remembered Jobs both as a family man and the force behind the company and its popular products. Cook said Jobs “loved his family above all, he loved Apple and he loved the people with whom he worked so closely and achieved so much.”

Cook and other people who worked with Jobs also posted messages to Apple’s internal website. The messages, viewed by CNET, are excerpted below.

The anniversary comes as a new movie about Jobs is set to open in limited release on Friday and more widely later this month. The film, titled simply “Steve Jobs,” has been poorly received by Jobs’ widow and by some of his former colleagues.

Laurene Powell Jobs has reportedly attempted to block the film. She called on Sony Pictures and Universal Pictures, which developed the script and produced the film, respectively, to stop the picture, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Written by Aaron Sorkin, the film is based on Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Jobs.

“She refused to discuss anything in Aaron’s script that bothered her despite my repeated entreaties,” producer Scott Rudin told the Journal. She also, he said, “continued to say how much she disliked the book, and that any movie based on the book could not possibly be accurate.”

In mid-September, Cook was asked about the new film by “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert. The Apple CEO said, “I think a lot of people are trying to be opportunistic and I hate this.”

Jobs died October 5, 2011, at the age of 56 of respiratory arrest following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He has remained in the public eye through books and films that attempt to portray his life, career and personality. Jobs was a controversial figure. His efforts paved the way for products like the iMac and the iPhone, but his sense of perfectionism was said to have caused him to lash out at employees and others who didn’t live up to his standards.

Excerpt from Cook’s post on Apple’s intranet

Cook’s message Monday lauded Jobs for “small acts of friendship,” like stopping by Cook’s office almost every day before heading home or putting friends above himself. Cook shared a memory from 2009 when Jobs took a leave of absence from Apple to deal with his liver troubles.

In February of 2009, Steve was on a leave of absence from Apple and spending his time at his home. I would drop by after work and discuss many things with him. He was waiting for a liver transplant and his health seemed to be rapidly deteriorating. One day in particular, he seemed especially ill and I left feeling so distraught that I threw up in his yard.

I was worried he would not live long enough to reach the top of the waiting list for a cadaver liver. After checking out my own health and researching donor liver transplants, I visited Steve again and told him I wanted to give him a portion of my liver. Despite his condition and the uncertainty of whether he would live long enough to be at the top of the waiting list, he adamantly refused to accept my offer for fear it would place my own health in jeopardy.

That was the kind of person he was. He was unselfish in the face of his own mortality. Even when his outlook was bleak and he had every right to accept help, he refused, rather than put a friend’s health at risk. He put his compassion for me above his own needs, and I will never forget it.

Cook has shared similar tributes about Jobs over the years, as have Jobs’ other colleagues.

Andrea Jung, Apple board member

Andrea Jung, who is also CEO of Grameen America, a New York-based nonprofit microfinance organization, on Monday remembered Jobs as “being down to earth and good on his word.”

As a CEO, you have good days and bad days, and I remember I had a bad press day. Steve was a true friend — he called me on the phone and said, “Just ignore it. It’s hard but I’ve learned to. If you don’t fail, you’re not trying. Some of the world’s biggest successes come from learning from mistakes. Keep moving forward.” He was thoughtful and caring. That’s the Steve I knew. Those little touches.

Eddy Cue, senior VP of Internet software and services

Eddy Cue, who runs iTunes and Apple Pay, wrote that Jobs felt more like a family member than a boss.

Working with him, I always felt that there was a personal connection. It wasn’t just work. And in a way, sometimes he was a brother; sometimes he was a father figure, depending on what it was. But it was a family member nonetheless. And it was somebody you didn’t want to disappoint. I’ve never felt that way about anybody else that I’ve worked with. You feel that way about your family. You don’t want to disappoint your dad, you may not want to disappoint your brother or your kids or your wife. But you generally don’t feel that way about your boss, per se. There was a different feeling. He had that. He created that. And I think that’s part of the personal touch of the relationship that at least I felt I had with him around it.

Phil Schiller, head of marketing

Phil Schiller, the longest-serving member of Apple’s executive team, talked about Jobs’ sense of humor and an incident with Al Gore, the former US vice president and one of Apple’s board members.

Steve also had a great sense of humor. We would screw around all of the time. In 2003, we were working on a keynote demo of video conferencing with iChat on the Mac, and Al Gore was gracious enough during his busy schedule to make time to do the demo remotely with us. We were rehearsing the day before the keynote and Al is up on the giant 35-foot screen, and Steve in front of the Mac, and they were going back and forth discussing about what they were going to talk about. Al and Steve start joking a little bit, and as a comeback to something Al said, Steve turned around and mooned Al. He literally dropped his pants. Now, it was PG — he had his boxers on — but he mooned Al. All of us working on it were just dying.

Bud Tribble, original Mac team member

Bud Tribble, one of the original members of the Mac design team, remembered how Jobs and Apple were different from other companies in Silicon Valley.

Steve was not a lecturer. If he really wanted to impart or teach you something, he would show you. In 1981, just when the original Mac team had formed – there were maybe a dozen people – we were still trying to figure out what we were building. What should it be? What should it do? What should it look like? And Steve came in one day and said, “We’re going to go on a field trip.” And we all thought it would be some team-building exercise. Then he said, “We’re going to San Francisco to the de Young museum. They have a Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit and we’re going to just spend the whole day there, looking at what this guy did.”

It turned out to be an incredibly good lesson and it set the tone for the Mac group. The electric light had been invented and Thomas Edison wanted to have not just a burning bulb, but a beautiful thing. He convinced Tiffany, an artist, to make lamps. Tiffany used glass and chemistry and metallurgy to build art that was very useful to control light.

I think it was very illustrative of how Steve interacted with his teams and the people who were working for him. And it was an example of art meets technology, and probably one of the first times I saw that from Steve. Just this burning feeling he had – that was so different from what you found in the Valley, you know? Everything was bits and bytes and how fast it was and how much silicon and how many computations can it do. And here was Steve saying, “We’re building something, but it’s equally if not more important that it be an artistic act of creation.” Because these computers we’re making are going to be part of our environment, and if we didn’t pay attention to the aesthetics and the artistic nature of what we were doing, then who would? It would end up like the ugly bare bulb burning at the end of the wire.

I spent a lot of time with Steve. He was one of a kind. Really for the world to understand the impact of Steve on the world we live in, it’s going to require a lot more time and perspective.

Cook’s full message to employees

Here’s the full text from Cook’s message to employees.


Today marks four years since Steve passed away. On that day, the world lost a visionary. We at Apple lost a leader, a mentor, and many of us lost a dear friend.

Steve was a brilliant person, and his priorities were very simple. He loved his family above all, he loved Apple, and he loved the people with whom he worked so closely and achieved so much.

Each year since his passing, I have reminded everyone in the Apple community that we share the privilege and responsibility of continuing the work Steve loved so much.

What is his legacy? I see it all around us: An incredible team that embodies his spirit of innovation and creativity. The greatest products on earth, beloved by customers and empowering hundreds of millions of people around the world. Soaring achievements in technology and architecture. Experiences of surprise and delight. A company that only he could have built. A company with an intense determination to change the world for the better.

And, of course, the joy he brought his loved ones.

He told me several times in his final years that he hoped to live long enough to see some of the milestones in his children’s lives. I was in his office over the summer with Laurene and their youngest daughter. Messages and drawings from his kids to their father are still there on Steve’s whiteboard.

If you never knew Steve, you probably work with someone who did or who was here when he led Apple. Please stop one of us today and ask what he was really like. Several of us have posted our personal remembrances on AppleWeb, and I encourage you to read them.

Thank you for honoring Steve by continuing the work he started, and for remembering both who he was and what he stood for.

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