Judge Denise Cote approves 'unusual' settlement offer
[Updated with additional background information, details on "escape clause"] Federal court Judge Denise Cote has approved Apple's $450 million e-book suit settlement offer with US states. The agreement, proposed in June, will settle allegations made in 33 states and territories, with $400 million potentially reaching customers affected by the "price fixing conspiracy." The agreements only settles the states' complaints, with the publishers' settlements remaining discrete. However, Apple may have an ace up its sleeve on the deal -- in the form of a "vindication" clause.
Official iPhone User Guide updated on iBooks for iPhone 6 line, iOS 8
Following the arrival of iOS 8 on Wednesday, Apple has updated its official iPhone User Guide (a free e-book download available from the iBookstore) to cover its release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as offer a tour of all the new and changed features of iOS 8. The e-Book can be read on the iBooks app for iOS, or on the OS X version of iBooks for Mavericks and later. The guide covers all iOS 8-compatible iPhone hardware, from the iPhone 4S to the latest iPhone 6 models as well as offering iOS 8 tutorials, including the new Health app.
App and Media stores, iTunes Match and Radio unavailable to some users
[Update: problems resolved as of approximately 7:45PM ET] For the second time in as many days, Apple's online stores are unavailable for an undetermined percentage of users. The current outage, which began around 4:30PM ET and is ongoing, is affecting the both the iOS and Mac App Stores, the iBookstore, and a variety of iTunes services such as iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Radio and the iTunes Store. Other iCloud services, such as Siri, email, FaceTime and syncing services are not affected.
Customers of iTunes Music, App Store, Mac App Store and iBookstore affected
Apple's non-Apple Store commerce sites suffered some major downtime on Tuesday, with the App Store, iBookstore, Mac App Store and iTunes Music Store being inaccessible for nearly five and a half hours for some (but not all) users, from approximately 6:30PM to midnight Eastern time. During the outage, users were in some cases able to load the product pages of the sites, but unable to do anything else, while some others reported normal operations.
Boise-based company dubbed 'the Pandora of books' sold for $10-15 million
On Friday, Apple revealed that it had purchased book analytics and discovery company BookLamp for an undisclosed sum, though TechCrunch estimated the sale between $10-15 million. While it acknowledged the deal, the iPhone maker's only comment on the deal was its standard "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans" line. The company is likely to use BookLamp technology in its iBookstore to help readers discover new content.
iTunes and App Store difficulties already resolved
[Updated with spreading service issues] Apple online services have been affected by a pair of problems on Thursday, the company's system status page indicates. Still ongoing is a glitch with iCloud Mail, resulting in "slower than normal response" for some users. Trouble appears to have begun shortly after 2PM Eastern.
iPod continues terminal decline
In addition to its official announcement, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown of its fiscal Q3 results. "Greater China" -- including Taiwan and Hong Kong -- continued to lead the charge regionally, with its revenue increasing 28 percent year-over-year to $5.935 billion. Europe and Asia-Pacific each advanced 6 percent, to $8.091 billion and $2.161 billion, respectively. Apple's most important market, the Americas, rose 1 percent to $14.577 billion. Global retail numbers were up 1 percent to $4.104 billion.
Will solve complaints made in 33 states and territories
Apple has agreed to pay $450 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over e-book price fixing, brought against it by states and consumers, according to New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman. The payment will settle allegations made in 33 states and territories, including New York. Schneiderman says that of the total amount, up to $400 million could reach consumers, depending on whether Apple wins its appeal.
Pre-orders now discounted as titles disappear from Amazon listings
Exactly as predicted by critics, Amazon has begun flexing its muscle as the dominant e-book seller, and is now trying to renegotiate better deals with publishers to help its sagging bottom line. It is currently engaged in a very public fight with Hatchette, and has removed a number of best-sellers from its store as well as delayed or refused orders for other (physical) books. As with Walmart and some other outlets, Apple's iBookstore is now offering discounted pre-orders on the "missing from Amazon" books.
Some apps not propagating
A number of users are reporting problems accessing functions in various Apple online services, including the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the Apple TV. People with an Apple TV, for example, may be unable to load the Movies or TV Shows apps, although other apps like iTunes Radio and Netflix are still up. At the iOS App Store, some titles -- such as Facebook Messenger or Skype 5.0 -- are apparently missing or otherwise not propagating correctly.
Claims verdict was a 'radical departure from modern antitrust law'
Apple has filed an official appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, seeking to overturn District Court Judge Denise Cote's verdict in July, which found Apple in violation of antitrust laws through its handling of e-book deals. "The district court's ruling that Apple, in the very act of launching the iPad, inventing the iBooks Store, and entering the e-books market, violated the Sherman Act is a radical departure from modern antitrust law and policy. If allowed to stand, the ruling will stifle innovation, chill competition, and harm consumers," the company claims in its appellate opening brief.
Email to developers, publishers requires age ratings by this June
In addition to updating developers generally about the recent iBookstores expansion, Apple has also asked publishers and developers of e-books aimed at children and teens to provide "interest age" ratings to their publications, even with digital textbooks earmarked as educational material. The move is to help the iBookstore classify the appropriate age range for e-books, suggesting the company will further categorize future titles within the Juvenile Fiction and educational books genres. Developers and publishers must begin including the "interest age" information with their submissions by June of this year, the email said.
Company aims for longer stay, monitor's eventual removal
The Second US Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Apple an "administrative stay," temporarily relieving it of scrutiny by antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich, Reuters reports. The stay is short-term only, and in fact Apple is pursuing a longer stay while it also seeks to suspend Bromwich entirely. A three-judge panel is due to hear a motion for the longer stay as soon as possible. The Department of Justice has until January 24 to file opposition; it didn't, however, oppose the administrative stay.
Store was last to get gifting options, works with desktop version too
The last Apple digital storefront has now added a "gift" option, just in time for the holidays. On Tuesday, Apple activated gifting to the iBookstore, allowing customers to buy and send e-books either immediately or on a specific date. The company had previously enabled the option for apps, movies, TV shows and music back in 2010. The option is available on all e-books, and iTunes Store credit can be used to purchase the gift.
Hints at prep for launch of OS X Mavericks
People using the latest version of OS X Mountain Lion are beginning to see an "Open in iBooks" buttons on iBookstore pages within iTunes, users say. The button appears if a person has a title in their iBooks library, but is currently non-functional, since the first Mac version of iBooks is only due to launch alongside OS X Mavericks. That may suggest, however, that Apple is making final preparations for Mavericks' release.
FaceTime, iTunes Match, other iCloud features briefly affected
Several of Apple's online services were briefly impacted by outages earlier today, according to Apple's System Status page. The worst affected the iTunes Store, the iBookstore, and the Mac and iOS App Stores between 1:28 and 2:57PM Eastern time, preventing some people from making any purchases. During the same time period, people may have been unable to use iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match, or restore purchases from an iCloud backup.
Versioning, new tutorials, catalog reports, higher pixels limit, more
Apple on Thursday sent out an email to authors and publishers that announced a number of new features geared toward content producers in the iBookstore. Among the changes is support for versioning, allowing readers to be automatically notified when a book they've purchased has been updated with a new version. Also included in the updates are new catalog reports, updated documentation, a rise in the pixel limit for book images and more.
Publishers expected to pay out over $162 million
Two of the five publishers accused of conspiring with Apple to inflate e-book prices, Macmillan and Penguin, have started issuing emails to e-book customers, informing them of rights, responsibilities, and proposed terms in the legal settlement the companies negotiated. Under current terms, the publishers would distribute approximately $162.25 million to customers who bought e-books at any digital outlet between the iBookstore's launch on April 1st, 2010 and May 21st, 2012.
Uses evidence from talks between Jobs, Schiller, Cue
The US Department of Justice has filed a revised settlement proposal for the outcome of its recent trial victory against Apple. The proposal is similar to the original, but incorporates an expanded section on in-app purchases, claiming that Apple formulated its rules to "retaliate against Amazon for competitive conduct that Apple disapproved of" and "make it more difficult for consumers using Apple devices to compare ebook prices among different retailers."
Narrowed down to two affiliate networks, but with larger
Apple is making significant changes to its affiliate program for content on iTunes, the iBookstore, and the Mac and iOS App Stores, according to an announcement. The program gives participants a small commission for sales made via specially-formatted links. The main change is the elimination of LinkShare and dgm as affiliate networks, leaving just Tradedoubler and a new addition, Performance Horizon Group.
Would've given Apple time to appeal DoJ penalties
Judge Denise Cote has denied an Apple request to temporarily stay her ruling stemming from a trial over e-book price fixing, the Associated Press reports. Had the stay gone through, it would've given Apple time to appeal settlement terms proposed by the US Department of Justice. In July, Cote found that Apple had conspired with five major book publishers -- Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster -- to artificially inflate e-book prices and undermine Amazon, which in 2009 was selling Kindle titles at a standard price of just $10.
Sign of companies operating too closely in unison, DoJ suggests
The US Department of Justice has filed a response to the book publishing industry's defense of Apple in light of possible settlement terms that could impose strict restrictions on Apple, and which the publishers suggest might alter the terms of their own settlements over allegations of fixing e-book prices. DoJ attorney Lawrence Buterman contends that the unified defense shows that the publishers have "banded together once again," as they did when conspiring to inflate prices and undermine Amazon. The publishers' motion "only highlights why it is necessary to ensure that Apple (and hopefully other retailers) can discount ebooks and compete on retail price for as long as possible," the filing reads.
Hearing on penalties to be assessed on August 9
Five of the publishers originally involved in the e-book price fixing case with Apple have filed a motion in Judge Denise Cote's court, opposing the proposed penalties that the Department of Justice wants asserted against Apple. The five publishers claim that the Department of Justice's demand will "improperly impose additional, unwarranted restrictions on the settling defendants, thereby depriving each publisher of the benefit of its bargain with plaintiffs." The penalty proposal by the Department of Justice and all filed motions will be heard on Friday, August 9.
Downtime affects major services
Several Apple online services encountered outages earlier today, according to the company's system status page. Between 11:23AM and 1:54PM Eastern, people may have been "unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, or iBookstore," the page states. "Users may also have been unable to download previously-purchased content, use iTunes Match, or successfully restore Apps and Music from an iCloud backup."
Claims terms would 'establish a vague new compliance regime'
Apple has lashed out at the Department of Justice's proposed terms for settling the case the latter brought over e-book price fixing. In court documents, Apple calls the terms a "draconian and punitive intrusion" into its business, with penalties "wildly out of proportion to any adjudicated wrongdoing or potential harm."
Would undo one of the stricter App Store rules
The Department of Justice has published proposed settlement terms that could force Apple to allow apps to link to outside e-book stores. Last month, the DoJ emerged victorious against Apple in a trial over e-book price fixing. Apple was accused of conspiring with publishers to artificially inflate e-book prices, in particular with the aim of undermining Amazon's once-standard $10 pricetag for Kindle titles. Modern, high-profile e-books are usually priced closer to $13 or $14.
Commitments 'are now legally binding'
The European Commission has accepted a proposal from British publisher Penguin -- and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann -- to toss e-book deals it signed with Apple that are in violation of European competition regulations, according to a press release. "After our decision of December 2012, the commitments are now legally binding on Apple and all five publishers including Penguin, restoring a competitive environment in the market for e-books," states the EC's Competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia.
Planned grounds for appeal yet to be disclosed
Apple will appeal today's judgment against it in a trial over e-book price fixing, says spokesman Tom Neumayr. "Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations," he adds. "We've done nothing wrong."
Decision could impact Amazon, iBookstore, future of e-book prices
Apple indeed violated antitrust laws, conspiring with publishers to fix the prices of e-books, US District Judge Denise Cote has ruled in a Manhattan court. The company is said to have colluded with Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster in order to undermine Amazon, which until the launch of Apple's iBookstore was able to sell e-books for a standard $10. Cote notes that the publishers' switch to an agency model, prompted by talks with Apple, forced a number of e-books to climb in price to $13 or $15.
Follow brief outage for iCloud affecting 1.5 percent of customers
For about an hour and 20 minutes earlier today, some 20 percent of users trying to access the iTunes Store and associated services such as the App Store and iBookstore were blocked from doing so due to a service outage, Apple reports. According to its Services Status page, the problem began at 7:25PT and lasted until 8:45PT this evening. Earlier in the day, a small (1.5) percentage of users were hit with a brief iCloud outage that lasted about 45 minutes in the late afternoon, Pacific Time.
Testimony from Cue, Barnes & Noble exec change tone of trial
After having begun the case against Apple brought by the Department of Justice with a set of blistering opinions that essentially concluded the iPhone maker was guilty of the e-book price-fixing charge against it, Judge Denise Cote has been seen to change her position considerably over the course of the trial. On Thursday, as part of the winding down of the witness portion of the trial, she noted that she had "learned a lot" from the evidence after having felt "very prepared" ahead of the trial, and that the "issues have shifted" since the trial began.
Was concerned about how self-publishing, aggregators would be handled
According to a an email exchange between then-CEO Steve Jobs and Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue submitted in court earlier today as part of the Department of Justice's e-book price-fixing trial, Apple's co-founder and then-leader read Mac rumor-and-news sites such as AppleInsider and would question the veracity of items found there. In the exchange, which happened just three months after Apple had launched the iBookstore, Jobs wants to know more about self-publishing options.
Little new during executive's final court date
Under questioning at the ongoing DoJ v. Apple antitrust trial, the man who negotiated Apple's iBookstore deals with publishers -- Eddy Cue -- today disclosed some minor facts about Steve Jobs' involvement with the iBooks app. The topic came up during examination by Apple attorney Orin Snyder. Earlier in the trial, Cue established that Jobs was heavily into the concept of iBooks and the iBookstore once iPad development started ramping up. During today's testimony, Cue revealed that Jobs had micromanaged some of the smallest details of iBooks.
Witnesses to include current iTunes, iBookstore heads
The Department of Justice's antitrust case against Apple is entering its final four days this week, according to Fortune. The original orchestrator of Apple's publisher deals for the iBookstore, Eddy Cue, is resuming court testimony today, having last testified on Thursday afternoon. Today's topics are expected to include a dinner Cue had with Macmillan's CEO, and disputed emails written to Cue by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
DOJ claims Cue, Jobs discussed deal with Amazon to stay out
In further testimony on the last day this week of the Department of Justice e-book price-fixing trial, Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue told the judge that Steve Jobs had been initially opposed to the idea that became the iBookstore -- not believing that the tablet would be an ideal device for reading compared to dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle. Cue said he was responsible for persuading Jobs by telling him of the benefits of e-books on the iPad, which won Jobs over.
Blames publishers' resentment towards Amazon prices
Apple's senior VP for Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, testified today in defense of the company at the Department of Justice's ongoing antitrust trial over e-book prices. Cue was responsible for negotiating publisher deals to help launch the iBookstore in 2010. Apple is accused, however, of colluding with publishers to switch the e-book industry to an agency model, specifically with the aim of forcing prices higher and undermining Amazon's then-standard $10 pricetag.
Doubling of business keeps Apple at 20 percent of e-book marketshare
Such is the explosive growth of the e-book market that Apple, as revealed during the ongoing price-fixing trial brought by the US Department of Justice, grew its iBooks business by 100 percent in 2012 alone, and yet that was only enough for it to maintain its place at 20 percent share of the overall market -- suggesting that Amazon also saw a doubling of its e-book business that year as well. Apple has maintained that 20 percent share more or less since it entered the market in 2010.
Suggests Apple was aiming at forcing Amazon to accept higher prices
As a result of an email written by former CEO Steve Jobs, Apple may have suffered a significant blow at the e-book antitrust trial being pursued by the Department of Justice. Fortune reports that the head of Apple's iBookstore, Keith Moerer, testified yesterday that Apple had never asked or pressured any book publisher into changing contracts with Amazon from a wholesale model to Apple's preferred agency model, in which publishers can dictate higher prices. Apple was "indifferent" to what model publishers used with Amazon, Moerer claimed.
Collusion claims cast into doubt
The Department of Justice suffered an early blow in its antitrust case against Apple yesterday, reports say. Testifying in court was Google's director of strategic partnerships, Thomas Turvey. In previous written testimony, Turvey had claimed that representatives from book publishers told him in 2010 that they were switching to an agency model because Apple required it in its iBookstore contracts. Under cross-examination by Apple lawyer Orin Snyder however, it emerged that the written testimony was drafted with the help of Turvey's lawyers, and he was unsure who wrote the central allegations.
Claims government trying to 'reverse engineer a conspiracy'
The Department of Justice's antitrust case against Apple over e-book pricing is "bizarre," said Apple lawyer Orin Snyder yesterday during the case's opening arguments. Snyder went on to call the allegations "sinister interference" based on nebulous evidence, and complain about pre-trial comments by Judge Denise Cote inferring that the DoJ was likely to win.
Verdict could help reshape e-book industry
Apple is today headed to trial to defend itself in the antitrust case brought against it by the US Justice Department over e-book pricing, Bloomberg notes. The company is accused of conspiring with major publishers -- Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Pearson, and HarperCollins -- to artificially inflate the prices of e-books over the $10 threshold that was once standard at Amazon. The publishers were also involved in the case at one point, but each decided to settle before matters went to trial.
Indicates Apple was pushing for prices higher than Amazon
US Department of Justice filings in the e-book price-fixing case against Apple reveal an exchange between former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and News Corporation/HarperCollins' James Murdoch, notes AllThingsD. In the course of a Jobs-penned email, which dates back to January 2010, the CEO explains why Apple is proposing to tie e-book prices to hardcover ones. "We simply don’t think the e-book market can be successful with pricing higher than $12.99 or $14.99," Jobs writes.
Marks end to European investigation
In order to end an antitrust investigation by the European Commission, Pearson-owned book publisher Penguin has offered to drop e-book deals with Apple that inflated prices for Amazon and other vendors, Reuters reports. Penguin is the fifth publisher to settle, joining Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillian, which along with Apple reached a settlement with the Commission in December.
Buyout offer nixed Goodreads integration into iBookstore
Amazon's buyout of Goodreads in late March also had the effect of derailing Apple plans for the iBookstore, say Wall Street Journal sources. During the past year, Apple and Goodreads reportedly discussed integrating Goodreads content into the iBookstore, namely in the form of displaying user reviews and ratings. The scheme would've echoed the way Rotten Tomatoes ratings are presented alongside movies on iTunes.
Pushes localization for App Store, iBookstore titles
Apple has sent out a memo to developers this week, urging them to localize Mac and iOS apps as well as titles on the iBookstore, notes AppleInsider. The message is being delivered through iTunes Connect, and points out that both the iOS and Mac App Stores are accessible in 155 countries and 40 languages. "In addition, the App Store editorial team is always looking for great apps that are localized," Apple writes.
Apple CEO asked to provide four hours of information
CEO Tim Cook has been ordered to testify in the Department of Justice's antitrust case against Apple, Reuters reports. US District Judge Denise Cote has asked Cook to provide four hours of testimony, fulfilling requests by prosecutors, who have argued that the executive likely has relevant knowledge of Apple's 2010 entry into e-books with the iBookstore. Apple opposed involving Cook, claiming that the deposition of 11 other executives made the CEO's participation "cumulative and duplicative." Cote, though, has taken the position that the passing of Steve Jobs -- in charge of Apple at the time the iBookstore was introduced -- means the DoJ is "entitled to take testimony from high-level executives."
Some Twitter users complain
Apple's official iBookstore Twitter account accidentally retweeted and favorited a potentially offensive post on Sunday night, says 9to5Mac. "Let me suck a ____ and tell you how much I love introspective novels," the original message read. Although the post quickly disappeared from the iBookstore feed, it was up long enough for some people to complain and/or unfollow.
Includes manga, other paid content
Apple has released iBooks 3.1 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. While a minor update in most countries, v3.1 is the first to bring the full iBookstore to Japan. Previously, only public domain books were available in the country; now though the store has a variety of paid titles, including manga comics.
Macmillan reaches settlement with government
The US Department of Justice has settled with publisher Macmillan in a long-running e-book price-fixing lawsuit, says AllThingsD. "Under the proposed settlement agreement, Macmillan will immediately lift restrictions it has imposed on discounting and other promotions by e-book retailers and will be prohibited until December 2014 from entering into new agreements with similar restrictions," a DoJ statement reads. "The proposed settlement agreement also will impose a strong antitrust compliance program on Macmillan, including requirements that it provide advance notification to the department of any e-book ventures it plans to undertake jointly with other publishers and regularly report to the department on any communications it has with other publishers. Also for five years, Macmillan will be forbidden from agreeing to any kind of most favored nation (MFN) provision that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement."
Talks still ongoing with major Japanese publishers
Apple should finally launch paid titles at the Japanese iBookstore sometime this year, according to sources for AllThingsD. The company is reportedly negotiating with several Japanese publishers, such as Kodansha, Shogakukan, and Kadokawa. Talks are said to be making progress, and agreements may be completed soon. Allegedly, though, a launch won't happen as fast as the Nikkei has suggested, which is later this month.