Calendar 2 made $2K in 3 days mining cryptocurrency, but Apple says it violated Mac App Store guidelines

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Yesterday, we reported on a macOS app called Calendar 2 that seemingly added cryptocurrency mining as an alternative to paying for premium features. At the time, the app’s developers, Qbix, had made the decision to remove the feature from the app.

The company now tells us, however, that Apple ended up pulling the app from the Mac App Store for violating its guidelines…



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U.S. government investigates whether Apple violated securities laws with iPhone slowdown updates

Apple is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission to determine whether the company’s iPhone-slowing software update violated securities laws, according to a Bloomberg report. The inquiry is in early stages, and it’s uncertain whether an enforcement action will follow.

Last month, Apple admitted that software updates were responsible for slowing down iPhone 6 and newer devices, explaining that iOS would quietly reduce processor performance to keep pace with the diminished power output of aging batteries. The admission was met with widespread fury from customers, manifesting as dozens of class action lawsuits and multiple investigations by foreign governments, which could lead to large civil judgments, fines, and other penalties.

Inquiries by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission could focus on whether Apple either failed to disclose a material fact to investors in a timely fashion or enabled insiders such as executives to engage in beneficial stock trades using advance knowledge of non-public information. The window for non-disclosure could be large: Apple updated iOS in early 2017 with code that slowed down certain iPhones, but didn’t fully disclose the performance compromises until third-party reports spotlighted the issues in December. Bloomberg updated its original report to note that “[i]nvestigators are looking into public statements made by Apple,” and “are concerned that the company may have misled investors about the performance of older phones.”

Apple’s stock has skyrocketed in value over the past decade, reflecting the American computer maker’s evolution into a leading global vendor of consumer electronics and related services, while making key Apple executives into multi-millionaires. Prior to the announcement of U.S. investigations today, reports of disappointing iPhone X sales helped drive the stock down to three-month lows in the lead-up to its February 1 release of first quarter earnings.

Apple – VentureBeat

EU fines Qualcomm $1.23 billion for payments to Apple that violated antitrust rules

The European Commission announced today that it has leveled a $ 1.23 billion fine against Qualcomm for a deal it made with Apple that prevented other companies from competing fairly against the smartphone giant’s chip business.

The fine is massive, thought it’s well below the more than $ 2 billion the commission could have sought under Europe’s antitrust laws. Still, officials made it clear that they believed Qualcomm’s strategy hurt consumer choice and limited innovation.

“Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance,” commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the head of competition policy, said in a statement. “Qualcomm paid billions of U.S. dollars to a key customer, Apple, so that it would not buy from rivals. These payments were not just reductions in price — they were made on the condition that Apple would exclusively use Qualcomm’s baseband chipsets in all its iPhones and iPads.”

Qualcomm has previously denied it violated antitrust laws and is expected to appeal the decision*, which means a final resolution of the case is likely years away.

The commission launched its investigation in 2015 over concerns that Qualcomm was abusing its dominant position in LTE chipsets. While having market dominance is not illegal, EU antitrust rules make it clear that such power cannot be used to limit competition.

In fact, the investigation found that between 2011 and 2016, Qualcomm accounted for more than 90 percent of marketshare. The commission concluded in its ruling that Qualcomm had abused its power because it made “significant payments to a key customer on condition that it would exclusively use Qualcomm chipsets.” The report found that “by making sure that rivals had no chance to compete for any of Apple’s important business, Qualcomm’s conduct had an effect on the LTE baseband chipset market as a whole.”

* Update: Qualcomm has issued a formal response to the EU ruling, stating that it “strongly disagrees with the decision” and that it plans to appeal at the General Court of the European Union.

“We are confident this agreement did not violate EU competition rules or adversely affect market competition or European consumers,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm. “We have a strong case for judicial review and we will immediately commence that process.”

Apple – VentureBeat

Head of innovation Jim McCarthy fired for behavior that ‘violated Visa policy’

The high-profile executive was a key figure in deals with tech giants like Apple and Google

Jim McCarthy, a top Visa executive who was the company’s key decision-maker on deals with big tech companies, has been fired for behavior that “violated” company policy.

Visa president Ryan McInerney, to whom McCarthy reported, sent out a company-wide memo on Friday announcing the departure.

“Jim is an 18-year veteran of Visa and has contributed much to our company over the years,” the message, which Recode viewed, read in part. “However, in response to information that recently came to our attention, we determined that Jim had violated Visa policy. We cannot ignore behavior — at any level — that runs counter to our leadership principles and culture.”

The memo does not disclose the nature of the “information” nor the behavior or violation that led to the decision. But one would imagine it is serious enough for management to oust someone of McCarthy’s stature.

A Visa spokeswoman declined to comment. McCarthy did not immediately respond to text and voice messages seeking comment.

Recode has been working to gather more information about the circumstances surrounding the termination, but does not yet have enough of the details confirmed to publish the reasons for McCarthy’s ouster. (If you do have more information, you can email me at, or reach me by phone or on secure messaging apps like Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp and Confide at 9176554267.)

The firing is significant for tech, since McCarthy has been Visa’s highest-profile executive in Silicon Valley due to his role overseeing the company’s global innovation and strategic partnerships groups. These teams work on big projects such as Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay, as well as deals with other tech firms such as Stripe, FitBit and Garmin.

Externally, McCarthy had also become the face of Visa at tech-related conferences. (For example, I’ve interviewed McCarthy twice onstage at the Money20/20 payments conference alongside a counterpart from MasterCard.)

Recode – All

The DOJ is looking into claims that Uber violated foreign bribery laws

Uber is cooperating with the preliminary investigation.

Uber is fielding questions from a federal agency for the third time this year.

The Department of Justice is beginning to look into claims that Uber violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribing foreign officials to obtain and retain businesses.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the investigation. Uber has confirmed that it is cooperating with the agency’s inquiry, which is in the preliminary stages.

This is the second time the DOJ probed the company; the previous time, it was for Uber’s use of software to avoid local authorities. The company also recently settled an FTC investigation into its privacy practices, agreeing to 20 years of privacy checkups.

Uber operates in more than 80 countries around the world, and has come up against initial resistance from local officials in many of those regions. While the company is still seeing roadblocks in some parts of Europe, it has scaled relatively quickly in parts of Asia and Latin America.

The company recently faced regulatory issues in the Philippines, which was the first country to pass nationwide ride-hail regulations. Uber was suspended for a month after failing to follow an order from local officials to stop adding drivers to its platform. On Tuesday, Uber restarted its operations there after paying a penalty.

We’ve reached out to a spokesperson for the Justice Department, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is developing

Recode – All

Trump’s social media chief violated federal law when he tweeted for the election defeat of a GOP Representative

Dan Scavino got a warning letter from the Office of Special Counsel.

A government watchdog has reprimanded President Donald Trump’s director of social media for running afoul of a federal law that bars officials from using such tools for political ends.

The reprimand comes in response to a tweet by Dan Scavino, posted in April, that called for the election defeat of Republican Rep. Justin Amash. The congressman is part of the House Freedom Caucus, which initially opposed a health care reform bill championed by House Republicans and the White House.

The tweet immediately drew a sharp rebuke from ethics experts, who said it violated a 1939 law, called the Hatch Act, which is supposed to prevent employees in the executive branch, like Scavino, from using taxpayer dollars and official federal resources for political purposes, like advocating a vote against a sitting lawmaker.

The Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington soon complained to the government — and the Office of Special Counsel, in a follow-up letter released this week, confirmed that Scavino had been in the wrong.

“OSC has concluded that his activity violated the Hatch Act,” one of the office’s chief investigators wrote on June 5. “Accordingly, we issued Mr. Scavino a warning letter. In addition, we note that Mr. Scavino was recently counseled about the Hatch Act by the Office of the White House Counsel.”

Investigators said that Scavino hasn’t broken the rules since then, cautioning if he does that they could take “further action” in response.

Recode – All