Thursday, April 12, 2012
  • Gavin O'Malley, April 12, 2012, 12:03 PM
  • Does DOJ Have Weak Case Against Apple? Within the boundaries of U.S. antitrust law, not everyone is buying the Justice Department's legal pursuit of Apple for alleged e-book price fixing. Similar to what happened in 1982 -- when the DOJ admitted its antitrust lawsuit against IBM was "without merit," and abandoned the case -- this latest effort is “likely to end in defeat,” contends CNet. More recently, in 2001, a federal appeals court shot down the Justice Department's attempt to, in CNet’s words, “rewrite antitrust law,” by breaking Microsoft into two separate entities. Apple’s publishing partners, however, might have a harder to avoiding prosecution. "It's a harder case against Apple than the publishers," according to Geoffrey Manne, who teaches antitrust law at the Lewis and Clark Law School in Oregon. Writes CNet: “One reason lies in the Justice Department's 36-page complaint, which recounts how publishers met over breakfast in a London hotel and dinners at Manhattan's posh Picholine restaurant, which boasts a ‘Best of Award of Excellence’ from Wine Spectator. The key point is that Apple wasn't present.” Adds Dominick Armentano, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Hartford: the DOJ "has a far better case against the publishers than Apple … If the CEOs of the various publishers got together in hotel rooms to discuss prices, they are sunk.”  
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  • Placeme Takes User Tracking To New Level If Placeme is any indication, mobile apps are quickly heading in the most invasive of directions. The free software uses every sensor in a smartphone users’ handset to track his or her activities, location and environment. Unlike Foursquare and other location-based services, there’s no checking in or other user action needed to engage with the app. As such, Placeme “may be both the scariest and amazingly futuristic smartphone app I’ve seen yet,” writes GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel. Built by Alohar Mobile, the service simply records everything in the background. “That creates the fullest set of personalized data I can think of: Placeme is a complete personal tracking solution,” according to Tofel. “Obviously, the scary part is that the app essentially learns everything about you: Where you shop, your route to work, who you visit, etc.” Still, if users can get past the app’s supreme pervasiveness, it could prove very useful to them, Tofel suggests. According to the app’s makers, it can check one’s route home from work in advance to check for traffic, or perhaps alert them to that fact that another gas station nearby has cheaper gas than the station they just pulled into. The possibilities for usefulness -- and insidiousness -- are pretty much without limit. “Will people be willing to give up privacy for this type of help?” Tofel asks. “Over time,” he thinks so. “Especially with the younger generation that is growing up with smartphones.”  
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  • Get Your Domain Name Here! Last year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), officially opened the naming convention so that anyone with $180,000 and a dream could buy their own their own top-level domain (TLD). For the foreseeable future, however, today is the deadline to file the application. Top-level domains refer to the very top of the Web’s naming system, and presently include the 22 generic TLDs such as .com, .org and .net., along with the 250 or so country code TLDs (such as .fr for France, .de for Germany or .ru for Russia). Now, however, “the most dramatic shake-up of the internet’s naming system could see the introduction of over 1,000 new ‘top level domains,’” suggests The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog. “The plan is to allow the introduction of the so-called ‘.brands’ so that, for example, Apple could purchase .apple (rather than www.apple.com).” Also available -- at least at the time of ICANN’s initial announcement -- are more generic extensions, such as .music, .web,  .beer, .pizza and .sport. According to Digits, when new registrations closed late last month, there were already 839 registered users on the system. ICANN, meanwhile, is expected to announce the details of the process in the week beginning April 30.  
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