The Briefing 37: Week Ending May 25, 2013

The Briefing 37: Week Ending May 25, 2013

the-briefing-newThis is The Briefing, a ten-minute-or-less podcast of tech news, for the week ending May 25, 2013. In this edition: Microsoft reveals the Xbox One, Apple forced to answer questions about tax avoidance, and HTC is in “utter freefall”.

There is no audio available this week – largely due to my computer screwing up the recording. Hopefully I can get it fixed by next week. Instead, I decided to post the entire script of what I was going to say. Enjoy the long read.

See you next week.

This is the Briefing for the week ending May 25, 2013. I’m Terence Huynh.

Microsoft has revealed its next-generation console called the Xbox One. It promises to put you at the centre of entertainment and will have 8GB of RAM, 500GB of storage, and support for Blu-Ray. In addition, the Kinect gets an upgrade with a new 1080p HD camera that allows it to be more precise, more responsive and more intuitive; and has been fully integrated with the Xbox One. It will not require an always on internet connection as rumoured, but it will require a connection to the internet. It will also lose backwards compatibility with all Xbox 360 games, because of the different architecture.

Microsoft has confirmed that it will be released later in the year.

However, confusion has arisen over its plans to allow second hand games. A WIRED report confirmed that games are installed to the console, so the game disc is no longer required. But it does mean that you cannot give that away as it is tied to your console. Some are saying that you will need to pay a fee in order to let you play a pre-owned game; while others are reporting that it is the stores that will pay that fee.

Moving on to the other stories this week, apple has strongly defended its tax practices at an US Senate hearing. Telling the committee, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple pays all taxes and that they do not use tax gimmicks.  According to Cook, Apple paid $6 billion in taxes to the US Treasury – a tax rate of 30.5 percent.

Senators, however, accuse Apple for using its Irish subsidiaries – Apple Operations International, or AOI; and Apple Sales International, or ASI – as a way to avoid paying large amounts of tax on its foreign income. Between 2009 and 2012, AOI paid no income tax on its $30 billion it made internationally, while ASI paid a “tiny fraction” of tax on the $74 billion it made.

Both took full advantage of a loophole in both US and Irish tax law when determining if it was a ‘tax resident’ – or, which country does it pay tax to. Irish law determines tax residency based on its management, while the US tax laws base this on its place of formation. In short, it doesn’t pay American taxes because AOI is incorporated in Ireland; but doesn’t pay any Irish taxes because it’s controlled in America.

The tax avoidance issue from Apple, and in the UK by Google, has forced Ireland to hold its own hearings on the issue; with the European Union also expected to investigate.

Yahoo has confirmed that it will buy out Tumblr for $1.1 billion in an all-cash deal. It follows on from rumours that both companies were talking last week. Promising “not to screw it up”, Tumblr will be run as an independent company owned by Yahoo, and its CEO David Karp will remain its leader. While Yahoo says that it will see its audience grow by more than 50 percent and traffic to increase by 20 percent, Tumblr is largely the big winner as it gets access to its technology and infrastructure.

Yahoo also announced on the very same day a revamp of Flickr, its photo-sharing site. It has received a major redesign that centres on your photos, and users will now be given one terabyte of storage for free – enough to store at least 200,000 high resolution images. Flickr will also let users upload 3 minutes of video in full HD quality.

A Sydney-based law firm has begun issuing a series of letters to major Australian ISPs requesting to hand over details of users they claim to be pirating content from its clients. According to Delimiter, the firm is Marque Lawyers, a small firm who does intellectual property law.  Several ISPs that were contacted by Marque denied to give it access to its users information, but the firm it is considering using the courts to apply for “preliminary discovery” orders to retrieve the information so it can target the users directly.

HTC has lost a number of employees in the past three months, causing internal headaches for the company after the slow start of the HTC One and the failure of the HTC First. It appears, however, most of the departures are coming from its marketing arm. Kouji Kodera, its chief product officer; Jason Gordan, its vice president of global communications; Rebecca Rowland, global retail marketing manager; John Starkweather, director of digital marketing; and Eric Lin, product strategy manager, are said to have left the company in recent weeks. One source told The Verge that the company was in “utter freefall”, while Eric Lin said in a tweet that HTC staff should “just quit [and] leave now”.

Speaking of HTC, Nokia has filed two new complaints against the Taiwanese phone maker, claiming that it infringed on nine of its patents. Both companies have been at odds with each other since last year, and Nokia has now at least 50 patent complaints against HTC in the US, UK and Germany. For Nokia, it has been a mixed result: while HTC won a lawsuit over how it accesses the internet; it lost a few other cases to Nokia this year. HTC was also forced to rework the design of the HTC One after Nokia secured an injunction barring a component maker from supplying microphones to HTC due to an exclusivity agreement.

And finally, there is some good coming to Windows Phone. Google and Microsoft have said that they will be working together on a new YouTube application for the platform – after Microsoft created their own YouTube app in order to force Google to give it access to the official API. However, it appears that Microsoft will need to use public APIs and will lose some functionality – not so much of a win there.

And if you want the latest news, reviews, tips, tricks and opinion – you can go to our website at, where you can also find the shownotes for all the stories mentioned here. I’m Terence Huynh, goodbye for now.

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