Episode 282 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Telstra fibre cable cut by ‘vandals’

a deliberate cut to a major fibre cable connecting Maitland and the Hunter Valley in NSW, affected thousands of phone and broadband services.

Telstra indicated the cut had occurred at approximately 1.30am Tuesday morning  to a 100-fibre line connecting the areas.

19,000 local phone services, 8000 ADSL service and a small number of mobile towers were receiving connection issues or intermittent timeouts as a result of the cut.

Apple sells 3m iPads in opening weekend

Apple has claimed a ‘record’ first weekend of new iPad sales, with 3 million units sold globally in the days following the tablet’s official release.

Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller said it was the strongest Apple product launch yet.

Apple sold 37 million iPhones in last quarter – represents less than 9 percent of handsets sold in the quarter.

iPad selling more than 55 million units since the product launched in the spring of 2010; in fact, Apple sold 15.43 million iPads in its fiscal 2012 first quarter alone.

“We believe the tablet market will eventually surpass the PC market in size. It’s just a question of when,” Cook said.

The new iPad will arrive in New Zealand and several European countries from March 23.

Scammers fleece Aussies $85m in one year

Australians have lost more than $85 million in the last year to scams, with reported instances jumping more than double over the period.

The most common types of scam reported to the ACCC included up-front fee fraud, making up a third of total reported scams; hacking, where scammers ask for remote access to a victim’s computer; lottery scams; phishing emails, and online shopping scams.

Last Year Microsoft dumped Gold status partner Comantra following accusations it fleeced its customers in support call scams.
The Indian company was accused of calling Microsoft customers and charging as much as $300 to remove what it claimed were malware infections on their computers.
It has denied the allegations.
Support workers were said to have called customers on behalf of Microsoft and claimed their computers were infected with malware.

Targeting Scams report snapshot

  • The ACCC received over 83,000 scam reports and enquiries in 2011, almost doubling that of 2010.
  • Scam losses reported to the ACCC totalled more than $85.6 million, a 35 per cent increase from 2010.
  • 88 per cent of consumers who contacted the ACCC about scams in 2011 reported no financial loss.
  • The SCAMwatch website received in excess of 20.5 million hits throughout 2011, almost 400 per cent more than in 2010.
  • SCAMwatch also welcomed almost 5,000 new subscribers to its email alert service and more than 2,600 followers to its Twitter page (http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov) in 2011.
  • The ACCC also observed a shift in the preferred mode of scam delivery from online methods in 2010 to unsolicited telephone calls in 2011.
  • Almost 52 per cent of scams reported to the ACCC in 2011 were delivered by phone and reported losses to these scams totalled more than $27.7 million.

Common phone scams reported in 2011 included

  • Callers pretending to be from government: In 2011 the ACCC saw large numbers of advance fee scams initiated by telephone. Many involved scammers posing as representatives from government departments, for example offering fake grants, rebates or refunds in return for up-front payments.
  • Callers pretending to be from companies: In 2011 it was also common for scammers to pose as staff from well known companies and organisations asking for personal details, payments or remote access to the victim’s computer. Scammers posed as representatives from banks, computer companies, telecommunications services, postal and logistics services and solar panel installers.
  • Scam SMS: Text messages are also commonly used by scammers to send competition or prize scams. Scammers often try to snare many people with one SMS sent en masse – this is known as spamming. Scammers may request personal details or payments in scam SMS messages. If you respond, you could also be charged at premium rates or find yourself signed up to a costly subscription service.

Protect yourself from phone scams

  • Be cautious if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from government or a well known company and they request personal details or up-front payments.
  • If you are in doubt about the authenticity of a call, don’t commit to anything. Instead hang up and call the company or government department directly using their official customer service number to verify that it is genuine. Never use contact details provided by the caller, instead find the number via an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
  • Never confirm or provide personal details, credit card numbers or other account information over the phone unless you initiated the call and trust the other party.
  • If you receive a phone call out of the blue about your computer and requesting remote access – hang up – even if they mention a well-known company. Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.
  • Remember that you can still receive scam calls even if you have a private number. Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently from black-market sources.


Apple announces $45b dividend, stock buyback

Apple will initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share in its fiscal fourth quarter, which begins July 1.
The dividend is subject to approval by the board of directors. If approved, the dividend will be Apple’s first in nearly two decades.

Apple also said it will spend $10 billion to buy back its own stock over three years, starting in the company’s fiscal 2013 year. Apple said the primary objective of the stock repurchase plan is to neutralise “the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.”

For its fiscal 2012 first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, Apple reported revenue of more than $46 billion, up 73 percent from one year ago, and earnings of $13.1 billion, an increase of 118 percent year over year.


Hackers jailbreak iPad 3

The new iPad signalled a new challenge for hackers, and unsurprisingly, 9to5mac has posted screenshots of a jailbroken iPad 3 just hours after the tablet went on sale on Friday.

the hackers had managed the jailbreak with the same method as they used on the iPad 2.

Google takes aim at over-optimised websites

Matt Cutts, a software engineer within Google’s Webspam team “All those people who have been doing – for lack of a better word – over-optimisation – or overly doing their SEO compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to make that playing field a little bit more level.

Cutts said the changes came in an effort to “make the Googlebot smarter” to handle sites relying primarily on SEO techniques and those which do not optimise to the same extent.

Windows 8 to debut by October

MICROSOFT is expected to system on sale in October.

Microsoft meanwhile is understood to be on the verge of releasing its long-awaited Office app for Apple’s iPad.

Vibrating tattoo alerts patent filed by Nokia in US

The application lists Cambridge-based Zoran Radivojevic as the innovation’s lead inventor. It was filed last week.

It suggests a magnetic marking could be attached to either a user’s arm, abdominal area, finger or fingernail.  capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus [e.g. a vibration] relates to the magnetic field.”

“Examples of… applications may be low battery indication, received message, received call, calendar alert, change of profile, eg based on timing, change of time zone, or any other,” the filing reads.
“The magnetic field may cause vibration of one short pulse, multiple short pulses, few long pulses… strong pulses, weak pulses and so on.”

A spokeswoman for Nokia was unable to confirm whether Nokia intended to follow up its patent application with further research.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak queues for new iPad

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was spotted waiting in line for the new iPad at an Apple Store in Century City and was No. 2 in line. His wife, who was the first in line.

This isn’t the first time Wozniak camped out for an Apple product launch. Last October, Wozniak was the first in line for the iPhone 4S at the Apple Store in Los Gatos, Calif. The enthusiastic co-founder also waited in line at the Apple Store at Valley Fair Mall in San Jose, Calif. for the iPhone 3G in July 2008

poor form from apple, or just mixing it with the plebs?

Payplal Here


At this time, PayPal Here is only available to a small set of merchants. In April PayPal Here will be more widely available. Please join the wait list and we will email you as soon as PayPal Here becomes available

PayPal HereTM is a mobile payment solution that includes a free app and a thumb-sized card reader for your smartphone. It lets you simply and securely accept multiple forms of payment wherever your business takes you. PayPal HereTM helps you broaden your customer base and ensures you’ll never miss a sales opportunity again.
At this time, PayPal Here is in limited release but you can be the first in line when it becomes publicly available in April. Complete the wait list form on this website and you’ll be automatically notified about how to get your app and card reader when it becomes available.

You must have a Business or Premier PayPal account to accept payments with PayPal Here.

Pirate Parties Plan to Shoot Torrent Site Into Orbit

discussion that’s currently taking place on the the Pirate Parties International (PPI) mailing list. Apparently, the Pirates have big plans to launch a file-sharing site (torrent, we assume) into space. also another plan  to move its front-end proxy servers into the sky, creating a network of small mobile computers that are tethered to GPS-enabled aerial drones. The airborne computers, called Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS), will supposedly be harder for law enforcement agencies to terminate
it plans to use low-cost Linux computers, such as the $35 Raspberry Pi ARM board, to build its fleet.

almost four years ago that The Pirate Bay announced they wanted to buy the micronation of Sealand, so they could host their site without having to bother about copyright law – an ambitious plan that turned out to be unaffordable.

should have saved this one for april fools day


Vodafone’s Nigel Dews has resigned after 18 turbulent months     
By Mitchell Bingemann

VODAFONE Australia chief executive Nigel Dews has resigned from the company after a turbulent 18 months in which profits and customers exited the business.
His resignation was announced to staff this morning by Vodafone’s chief executive officer of Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific Region Nick Read.

It is understood that while Mr Dews will resign from his post at CEO, he will remain with Hutchison – one of Vodafone Australia’s two 50 per cent shareholders – in some capacity.

Bill Morrow, who once led Vodafone Europe and Japan, has been appointed as Mr Dews’ replacement. Mr Morrow is a former chief executive of Clearwire and was previously CEO of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

The changes will also see the role of VHA chairman rotate to the Hutchison Whampoa group managing director, Canning Fok.

“We are strongly committed to Australia. We’ll continue to back our business here as it makes the significant investments needed to build the network of the future,” Mr Read said in a statement.
“Bill is an outstanding industry leader and is well-placed to drive growth. I would also like to thank Nigel for his energy and commitment in leading the complex task of executing the merger of our businesses under the Vodafone brand, and wish him well for the future.”

Mr Dews resignation comes after a torrid 18 months for Vodafone in which network problems and poor sales hurt the company’s bottom line.

In a bid to build a “financially strong, profitable and sustainable business”, Vodafone has embarked on a restructure of its operations to help turn its flagging results around and revive sales.

That restructure has already seen Vodafone’s marketing and sales functions merged, claiming the scalps of at least 10 senior executives, including veteran marketing chief John Casey.

At least 200 jobs are expected to be cut from Vodafone Australia by the time the restructure is complete.
“It has been a privilege to lead Vodafone Hutchison Australia, but after nine years in this business, five of them as chief executive, it’s now time for a change. As I turn to my next challenge, I am confident that I leave behind an excellent team that will flourish under Bill’s leadership,” Mr Dews said.
Nigel Dews gains global role.
The parent companies of Vodafone Hutchison Australia have appointed the former chief executive of Vodafone’s European operations Bill Morrow to lead the Australian carrier.
Morrow will replace Nigel Dews, who has led the telco since the merger of 3 Mobile and Vodafone Australia in 2009.

Dews has been promoted to a “senior role” within VHA joint owner Hutchison Whampoa. The company did not reveal any details about Dews’ new role.

Morrow most recently led US mobile carrier Clearwire for two years, but stood down suddenly in March last year for “personal reasons”. He also holds board membership with chip manufacturer Broadcom and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

Hutchison Whampoa global managing director Canning Fok will also become chairman of the VHA board.
The appointments come amidst rumours that long-running financial and customer woes at VHA had caused both owners – Vodafone Group and Hutchison Whampoa – to reconsider their investment locally.
The Australian reported last week that the companies had circulated preliminary material in search of a buyer for the local carrier.

The two companies today “reiterated their long-term commitment to VHA as the business continues to make good progress in a number of areas”.

Hundreds likely to go in Optus review
By James Hutchinson on Mar 21, 2012 7:42 AM (9 hours ago)
Filed under Telco/ISP

Internal restructure set next month.
More than 750 jobs could be made redundant under an internal review currently underway at Optus.
The telco has said redundancies are likely as a result of the review but refused to confirm numbers.
“We are not in a position to comment on how many people are likely to be affected at this stage,” a spokeswoman told iTnews. The spokeswoman did not say when the review was due for completion.

However, highly placed sources within the company suggested 750 jobs in middle and line management are likely to be made redundant in the coming months, confirming similar reports from ABC News this week.
The company has 9700 staff, a decrease of nearly 500 from figures released a year before.A separate, recent restructure saw 180 managers axed.

Optus is set to undergo a significant internal restructure after parent company SingTel announced a group-wide shift that would see current Optus chief executive Paul O’Sullivan promoted to take care of global consumer operations.

Other Optus executives were also boosted to global functional roles under the restructure.
Internal restructure
Newly appointed lieutenant and chief operating officer at Optus, Kevin Russell, told staff this week that the internal restructure would see the Australian business split into three new groups; marketing, sales and customer.

The new structure would take effect from the beginning of the company’s new financial year on April 1 and see further promotions for existing Optus executives.

Current Optus Consumer managing director Michael Smith will head marketing, Optus small and medium business boss Rohan Ganeson will lead sales while Vicki Brady will move from Optus Wholesale and Satellite to the customer branch.

At time of writing, the Optus’ spokeswoman could not clarify who would replace Brady in her previous role.The internal restructure will centralise several departments, leading to duplicated roles which would spark the redundancies. In an internal memo to Optus employees, sighted by iTnews, Russell told staff the restructure would address a “diluted” brand strength. “In taking the fight to Telstra it’s clear our core Optus branded operations must be strengthened,” Russell said.

“I believe a simple, functional structure will position us better to fulfil our potential.”The newly formed customer branch would be charged with customer “care, logistics, credit and billing, as well as customer insights and retention” and would be”empowered to manage Optus customers from their first day to their last”.

The restructure did not affect Optus Wholesale and subsidiary Virgin Mobile. “I am acutely aware that for people working in Consumer and SMB this announcement creates a period of change and uncertainty,” Russell said.

Russell joined Optus in January from Three UK, where he was credited with restructuring the business to regain profitability.
Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.

Apple’s iPad throws off much more heat
By Edwin Chan, Poornima Gupta on Mar 21, 2012 7:50 AM (8 hours ago)
Filed under Hardware
Temperature rises to 47 degrees after 45 minutes of gameplay.
Apple’s new iPad throws off a lot more heat than the previous version, lending weight to complaints on Internet forums that the hot-selling tablet computer could get uncomfortably warm after heavy use, an influential consumer watchdog found after running tests.

Consumer Reports, a widely followed group that reviews everything from electronics to cars, found that Apple’s new tablet racked up temperatures of 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius) after 45 minutes of running an intense action game, up to 13 degrees F hotter than the previous model under similar conditions.

Using a thermal imaging camera, it ascertained that the front and rear of the tablet could run 12 to 13 degrees F hotter than the iPad 2 after running Infinity Blade II, depending on whether it was plugged in, Consumer Reports said.

The group, which can be instrumental in the success or failure of consumer products, has not reached a final decision on whether to recommend the latest model of Apple’s tablet.

A spokesman urged caution on the part of consumers but added the heat issue in itself did not appear serious enough to void its recommendation.
Consumer Reports plans to release a final review on the new iPad – which has sold more than 3 million units since it hit store shelves in more than 10 countries on Friday – in about five days.

“During our tests, I held the new iPad in my hands. When it was at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period,” reviewer Donna Tapellini said in the report.

The third iteration of the iPad, which hit markets in 2010, set a record for first-weekend sales when it launched Friday.
Hundreds of comments posted on an Apple support website, here, centred on how the new iPad — which sports a larger battery than its predecessor to power a sharper “retina” display screen and other bells and whistles – could get uncomfortably warm.

“My new iPad … definitely got significantly warm, almost too warm to hold warm, when running on LTE,” rawwave commented on Friday. “Not even doing a lot of downloads (just browsing Twitter) but having the LTE radio on seemed to cause it to get noticeably hot.”

Bigger battery
An Apple spokeswoman said the iPad was “within our thermal specifications.”

The company’s website lists the normal operating range for the new iPad as between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 to 35 degrees Celsius.

It is designed to power down should that range be breached.

The new iPad’s battery is 70 percent bigger than the one in the previous version, said Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, a prominent Apple repair and parts supplier.

“It still has the same battery life,” he said. “So it will run hotter.”

The iPad 2 had a 25 watt-hour battery while the new iPad’s battery has a capacity of 42.5 watt-hours, according to a tear-down analysis by iFixit.

Reviews have generally been good for a gadget that experts say falls short of being revolutionary, focusing on the iPad’s ability to take advantage of faster 4G wireless technology as well as a sharper display.

On Friday, before comments about excessive heat began circulating online, Consumer Reports said in its preliminary review that the iPad was “shaping up as the best tablet yet.”
(Reporting by Edwin Chan and Poornima Gupta; Editing by Andre Grenon, Gerald E. McCormick and Tim Dobbyn)

TPG mulls unlimited NBN plans
By James Hutchinson on Mar 21, 2012 7:19 AM (9 hours ago)
Filed under Telco/ISP

Cuts FetchTV talks.
Internet service provider TPG is considering whether to offer its popular unlimited downloads broadband plan to users on the National Broadband Network.

The low-cost ISP remains one of the few major players in the market not to publicly announce its intentions for NBN pricing and plans.

However, TPG general manager of marketing and sales Craig Levy told iTnews this week that it would look to publish detailed pricing for residents later this year, once it deemed the network was gaining higher volume.
He said the company was “looking at all our options” for NBN pricing, including an unlimited quota plan, and was planning to compete heavily on the network.

“We’re not going to be bystanders when the NBN does pickup volume,” he said. “We’re very much going to be in the game.”

TPG’s current unlimited plan is priced at $69.99 a month over an ADSL2+ service bundled with a home phone, but a similar plan on the NBN could cost more due to additional backhaul costs.

NBN retail plans released to date have peaked at terabyte quotas, with Skymesh the only provider to offer a 2 TB option.

Eftel consumer subsidiary ClubTelco, which offered an unlimited plan to all ADSL2+ users as a key selling point, removed that option in announcing its public NBN pricing this week. Its highest download quota now sits at one terabyte of downloads per month.

Eftel CEO Scott Stavretis did not return calls at the time of publication.

Dodo CEO Larry Kestelman, who plans to purchase NBN services through Eftel’s wholesale product, has also pledged to provide an unlimited offering over the fibre network.

Though he has previously told iTnews of potential changes in the price of that service, he declined to reveal this week whether the $39.90 a month plan it offers on ADSL2+ would change for an equivalent plan on the NBN.
Kestelman said offering an equivalent service was “definitely difficult but it’s something that I believe we can still do”.

Unlimited scale?
TPG’s Levy said the ISP’s customer base – now at 567,000 fixed line customers – would provide the scale required to level out data usage between heavy users on an unlimited plans.

The company would also rely on its significant infrastructure assets, including fibre connections to approximately two-thirds of the 121 points of interconnect planned for the network, PIPE peering exchanges and the PPC-1 submarine cable connecting Australia to Guam and the US.

“Because of our network infrastructure… if anybody can do it, we can do it,” he said.
“Backhaul would be expensive… at the end of the day I don’t think they’ve got the infrastructure to support it – in the end that’s what it will come down to.”

Telsyte telecommunications analyst Chris Coughlan said unlimited plans would like be unsustainable over the NBN in the long term as users would potentially download significantly due to the fibre network’s faster speeds.
“It’s really hard to do unlimited plans because essentially you pay both for the overall volume of the data you send to and from the NBN itself, as well as the connection at the customer’s premises.

“If you’re in the market with an unlimited plan with no one else, you could run the risk of a lot of customers on those sorts of plans,” he said.

“Unless the rest of the market is with you doing that, there is a risk because you could end up with a lot of heavy utilisation customers.”

Coughlan also pointed to potential issues around network contention, causing potential slow-downs for users connected at the same point of interconnect if an unlimited carrier like TPG did not purchase sufficient bandwidth from NBN Co.

The competition watchdog last year warned service providers not to under-provision their networks, with a threat to sue those providers that could not provide the headline speed claims offered by the NBN within reason.

It would mean a service claiming 100 Mbps downlink speeds over the NBN would be required to provide 100 Mbps where reasonably able to do so.

IPTV launch plans
Separately, TPG also unveiled plans to launch its own internet protocol television service over the next two months, replacing a web-based streaming service it had previously marketed as IPTV.

The new service provides users with a set-top box based on the Android platform and offering 30 to 40 channels “depending on where you are on the network”.

Levy would not reveal pricing for the box.

It comes as a surprise to the industry, which had rumoured long-standing talks between TPG and third-party IPTV provider FetchTV, which operates services for iiNet, Internode, Adam Internet and Optus.

Levy confirmed the company was no longer talking to FetchTV.

“We’ve decided to control our own destiny and control the pieces,” Levy said of the IPTV service.
Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.

Windows 8 to go on sale by October
By Liam Tung on Mar 21, 2012 7:23 AM (9 hours ago)
Filed under Hardware
Tablets in time for Santa.
Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system will go on sale by October this year, according to a Bloomberg report.
The date falls in line with a hint that Microsoft gave in January at the CES conference in Las Vegas.

Microsoft must release Windows 8 machines by September-October since “the last thing Microsoft wants is to have is … no compelling Windows tablets at a time when the new iPad look like it’s going to be a good seller for the holidays,” said Gartner analyst, Michael Gartenberg.

Apple has already sold three million third-generation iPads since launching the device five days ago.
Bloomberg reported there would be three WOA devices – the codename given by Microsoft to its ARM processor-based tablets.

Windows boss Steven Sinofosky already said in February Microsoft was working with NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments for its tablets.  

The ARM experience should be “exactly the same” as Windows on the x86/64 Intel chip architecture, except they will be more restricted.  
Analyst firm IDC today gave an optimistic estimate for the impact Windows 8 will have on PC shipments in the second half of 2012, predicting 5 percent growth in 2012 compared with 1.8 percent for 2011.

Consumers were holding off PC purchases because tablets “like Apple’s iPad are proving to be a powerful distraction”, said IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell.

However the Windows 8 tablet rollout is expected to be a shaky one.

Fellow IDC analyst Jay Chou said “meshing a tablet experience in a PC body will likely entail a period of trial and error”, meaning only modest growth for Windows 8 tablets in the near term.

Microsoft will reportedly hold an event for industry partners in April where it reveal more of its strategy.
Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.
Telstra fibre cable cut by ‘vandals’
By James Hutchinson on Mar 20, 2012 8:27 AM (1 day 8 hours ago)
Filed under Telco/ISP

Update: Knocks out internet and phone services in parts of NSW Hunter region.
Telstra has warned of a deliberate cut to a major fibre cable connecting Maitland and the Hunter Valley in NSW, affecting thousands of phone and broadband services.

The telco indicated the cut had occurred at approximately 1.30am this morning to a 100-fibre line connecting the areas.Final repairs were made just after 11am with final checks undertaken before fibre services were fully restored.

Customers in Scone, Singleton, Murrurundi and surrounding areas in NSW are believed to be affected.A spokesman for the telco said about 19,000 local phone services, 8000 ADSL service and a small number of mobile towers were receiving connection issues or intermittent timeouts as a result of the cut.

“Several hundred spectrum services” were also likely affected by the cable damage but none of Telstra’s major wholesale customers provided information on service disruptions in the area at time of writing.

The Telstra spokesman said “vandals” were most likely to blame.Repairs are underway but it could take more than eight hours to restore full services, he said.“Initial investigations indicate the fibre appears to have been deliberately cut,” he told iTnews this morning.

“This will be the subject of further investigation but our current priority is restoration of services.“Our crews have been on site assessing the damage and planning repairs and with rejoining of the fibres now underway services will restore with each repaired fibre over the next few hours.”

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.
Apple finally shares $92.3 billion cache
By Poornima Gupta on Mar 20, 2012 7:14 AM (1 day 9 hours ago)
Filed under Finance

No longer just preserving its cash.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has fulfilled a longstanding desire of investors by initiating a quarterly dividend and share buyback that will pay out $US45 billion ($42 billion) over three years.

The world’s most valuable company will start paying its first dividends since 1995 – a regular quarterly payout of $US2.65 a share – in July, and buy back up to $US10 billion of its stock beginning in the next fiscal year.

The $US10 billion annual dividend program, which Cook said will be reviewed periodically, ranks among the largest current US corporate cash payouts.

Yet it disappointed some fund managers, given the immense war chest Apple boasts, and a 1.8 percent dividend yield that lags the Standard & Poor’s 500 average.

Cook told analysts on Monday that “making great products” remained top priority, echoing the sentiments of his former boss, who died last October after a long battle with cancer.

Steve Jobs’ former lieutenant has impressed Wall Street since taking the helm. He made his mark revealing Apple’s production partners and initiating investigations into allegations of labor abuse in its supply chain, and addressing investors directly at this year’s Goldman Sachs conference.
But the question of whether the operations maven can envision revolutionary products still lingers for some.
Cook’s move came less than a year after he was appointed head of the company and suggested to many a move away from Jobs’ era, when a dividend was often mentioned but not acted upon.

Under Jobs, Apple maintained that capital preservation was key and the company needed the flexibility of having a cash pile.

“Already we are seeing more openness, and more willingness to address issues on many different fronts under Tim Cook than we had seen in the past,” said Connor Browne, portfolio manager of Thornburg Value Fund.
“While all this other stuff is good, there is still some pressure on management to come out with fantastic products over the coming months,” he said.

Apple shares were up 2.2 percent at $US598.33 in afternoon trading. It came within a whisker of its lifetime high of $US600.01 before falling back.

Different style
When Cook was announced as CEO of one of the most highly recognisable brands, Wall Street feared he lacked Jobs’ uncanny vision for ground-breaking consumer electronics.

But Apple’s shares have gained more than 50 percent since Jobs’ death and set a record above $US600 last week as investors noted the assurance with which Cook has taken the reins.

Within company headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop, there remains a sense of urgency despite the success, former Apple executive and venture capitalist Jean-Louis Gassee said.

Cook “was part of what made Apple such a juggernaut when Steve was running the show,” Gassee said. “He now follows Steve’s advice: Don’t try to be me, be yourself.”

Michael Holt, analyst with Morningstar, said Cook was “putting his own slant on things” but some of the company’s core areas, such as product development, have not changed under him.

“The influence of Steve Jobs is very heavy on not only the current products, but also products that are in the pipeline,” Holt said. “So it’s kind of a balance.”

Cook, a former IBM executive and Apple long-time chief operating officer, oversaw the rollout of the iPhone 4S last year and presided over what he said on Monday was a “record weekend” of sales for the new, 4G-enabled iPad.
“Innovation is the most important objective at Apple and we will not lose sight of that,” Cook said during the rare late-quarter conference call.
Many investors now await an Apple TV or a similar device: a gadget that will transform an industry the way the iPhone did. On a conference call, one of the first questions that cropped up regarded the product pipeline. Cook declined comment.

“One of the risks with Apple in particular is that they have very little in recurring revenues. Most of the revenue is new sales, which means that innovation is absolutely critical,” Oliver Pursche, manager of the GMG Defensive Beta fund.”

“That’s one of the reasons that the PE is so low.”
The company’s pipeline – which experts say Jobs put in place before his death and will last the company for years – seemed to be going strong. AT&T said on Monday it racked up a single-day record last Friday for new iPad activations.

Wall Street had expected strong numbers and took that news in stride, as it did the largely anticipated dividend.
Analysts said the initiation of a regular payout would attract a broader investor base, but added that many funds had already piled in on hopes of a dividend, after Cook said this year there were active discussions at the top level about what to do with its $US98 billion hoard of cash and securities.

“A lot of mutual funds that say they’re buying dividend companies had Apple in them. That shouldn’t be, but I guess it was obvious that after Tim Cook spoke last time that this was the case,” said William Lefkowitz, chief options strategist at VFinance Investments.

Apple expects the share buyback program to run over three years, with the primary objective to offset the impact of employee stock options and equity grants.

Its annual dividend yield will come in around 1.8 percent. That ranks above Oracle and IBM but falls just short of the average of around 2.4 percent for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index .SPX, analysts say.
The company will still maintain a “war chest” for other strategic opportunities, Cook said. “These decisions will not close any doors for us.”

The maker of the iPhone, iPad and iPod has $US98 billion in cash and securities, equal to about $US104 a share.
Apple said it anticipated using about $US45 billion of domestic cash in the first three years of its buyback and dividend programs.

Asked about the substantial cash Apple has parked overseas, chief financial official Peter Oppenheimer said the company had no plans to repatriate it at this time.

“The current tax laws provide a considerable economic disincentive to US companies that might otherwise repatriate the substantial amount of foreign cash that they have,” he said. “That’s our view. And we’ve expressed it. “

(Additional reporting by Yinka Adegoke, Sinead Carew, David Randall and Nicola Leske in New York and Tarmo Virki in Helsinki, Writing by Edwin Chan; editing by John Wallace, Gunna Dickson and Richard Chang)

Leave a Reply