theodp writes: 'There's a funny thing about the estimated $1.7 trillion that American companies say they have indefinitely invested overseas,' reports the WSJ's Kate Linebaugh (reg. or the old Google trick). 'A lot of it is actually sitting right here at home.' And if tech companies like Google and Microsoft want to keep more than three-quarters of the cash owned by their foreign subsidiaries at U.S. banks, held in U.S. dollars or parked in U.S. government and corporate securities, Linebaugh explains, this money is still overseas in the eyes of the IRS and isn't taxed as long as it doesn't flow back to the U.S. parent company. Helping corporations avoid the need to tap their foreign-held cash are low interest rates at home, which have allowed U.S. companies to borrow cheaply. Oracle, for instance, raised $5 billion last year, paying an interest rate roughly two-thirds of a percentage point above the low post-crash Treasury yield, about 2.5% at the time (by contrast, grad students and parents pay 6.8%-7.9% for Federal student loans). Were the funds it manages to keep in the hands of its foreign subsidiaries brought home and subjected to U.S. income tax, Oracle estimated it could owe Uncle Sam about $6.3 billion.
theodp writes: Rudy Giuliani had John Gotti to worry about; Mike Bloomberg has Steve Jobs. Despite all-time lows for the city in homicides and shootings, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said overall crime in New York City was up 3.3% in 2012 due to iPhone, iPad and other Apple device thefts, which have increased by 3,890 this year. 'If you just took away the jump in Apple, we'd be down for the year,' explained Marc La Vorgna, the mayor's press secretary. 'The proliferation of people carrying expensive devices around is so great,' La Vorgna added. 'It's something that's never had to be dealt with before.' Bloomberg also took to the radio, urging New Yorkers who didn't want to become a crime statistic to keep their iDevices in an interior, hard-to-reach pocket: 'Put it in a pocket in sort of a more body-fitting, tighter clothes, that you can feel if it was — if somebody put their hand in your pocket, not just an outside coat pocket.' But it seems the best way to fight the iCrime Wave might be to slash the $699 price of an iPhone (unactivated), which costs an estimated $207 to make. The U.S. phone subsidy model reportedly adds $400+ to the price of an iPhone. So, is offering unlocked alternatives at much more reasonable prices than an iPhone — like the $299 Nexus 4, for starters — the real key to taking a bite out of cellphone crime? After all, didn't dramatic price cuts pretty much kill car stereo theft?
theodp writes: Apple iOS parents, reports GeekWire, can pick up the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas in app form for their kids this holiday season for 99 cents. The interactive storybook app is also available for Xmas gift-giving by Windows 8 parents, but they'll pay $4.99 for a version that lacks the features available in the $0.99 iOS version. Which raises some interesting questions: 1. As concerns are being raised over a new Digital Content Divide, is it cool to have owners of the cheapest computers pay 5x the price charged to the most elite consumers, especially for an inferior port of an existing app from the same vendor? 2. Why exactly does a port of an existing app have to be sold at a price which so vastly exceeds that of the original — is it mostly due to economies of scale, difficulties of cross-system app development, or pricing shenanigans?
theodp writes: Don't believe everything Steve Jobs and Tim Cook tell you, advises The Verge's Sean Hollister. Gunshy of touchscreen laptops after hearing the two Apple CEOs dismiss the technology (Jobs: 'Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.' Cook: 'You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.'), Hollister was surprised to discover that Windows 8 touchscreen laptops actually don't suck and that the dreaded 'Gorilla Arm Syndrome' did not materialize. 'The more I've used Windows 8, despite its faults, the more I've become convinced that touchscreens are the future — even vertical ones,' writes Hollister. 'We've been looking at this all wrong. A touchscreen isn't a replacement for a keyboard or mouse, it's a complement.' Echoing a prediction from Coding Horror's Jeff Atwood that 'it is only a matter of time before all laptops must be touch laptops,' Hollister wouldn't be surprised at all if Apple eventually embraces-and-extends the tech: 'Microsoft might have validated the idea, but now Apple has another chance to swoop in, perfecting and popularizing the very interface that it strategically ridiculed just two years ago. It wouldn't be the first time. After all, how many iPad minis come with sandpaper for filing fingers down?'
theodp writes: A little over a year ago, an iPhone 4s prototype walked into a San Francisco bar, prompting a controversial manhunt by a now-deceased Apple investigator and the SFPD. Now, Wired reports that a Nexus 4 prototype walked into a San Francisco bar last month, prompting Google to sic its security team on "Sudsy", a San Francisco bartender who notified Google that he'd found their phone, which was slated to make its debut at a since-cancelled Android event on Oct. 29. When the 'Google Police' showed up at the bar, Sudsy's co-worker sent the 'desperate' Google investigator on a wild goose chase which landed him in an under-siege SFPD Station, from which he and Sudsy's lawyer had to be escorted out of under the watch of police in full riot gear with automatic weapons so the pair could arrange a 1 a.m. pickup of the phone.
theodp writes: With its 295 pages of drawings, Apple's pending patent application for a System and Method for Anonymous Location Based Services covers a lot of ground, including a plan to map the homes of those with criminal records and make the info available to via a GPS-based service. From the application "A policeman may activate a mobile police automobile device (i.e. RDPS) in a police car for automatic delivery of a person's criminal record as the policeman drives by the location of a person's house. The police establishment configures criminal record content, or pointers thereto, along with the location of the residence that is believed to harbor the person with a record. As the policeman drives by locations with addresses of known offenders, the RDPS displays applicable criminal data.' So, can we expect to see this feature on Apple Maps someday?