Apple iPhone 6 prototype attracts astonishing $88,000 eBay price tag

06 Oct 2014

It's common knowledge that Apple products inspire a cult-like following, with many fans happy to queue for hours, if not days, for the latest iPhone.

However, this obsession has reached new heights with the news that an iPhone 6 is being sold on eBay for over $88,000 - around £55,000.

The reason for this frankly insane price is that the 64GB iPhone 6 is a prototype that was accidentally delivered to its current owner by US-based American network provider Verizon.

Seller kimberlyk1018 has seen an opportunity to turn this mistake to his or her advantage, stating to potential buyers that "this is a once in a lifetime opportunity".

The phone itself offers little over a non-prototype version, other than featuring a red Lightning port and running in developer mode. It also lacks iOS 8, which has caused problems for Apple and iPhone users.

Kimberlyk1018 cannot even guarantee that the phone will make calls or whether its camera will work, but that has not stopped over 170 bids from what must be Apple fans with very deep pockets or irresponsible credit card limits.

However, the opportunistic seller is offering the following assurance: "I am also giving a 110% guarantee on this being an authentic Apple prototype device."

Clearly a generous soul, Kimberlyk1018 emphasised that free shipping is available providing the price exceeds $4,000.

The Telegraph raised questions about the legality of selling such a prototype, particularly as charges were brought against two men in 2010 who sold a prototype of the unreleased iPhone 4 to technology website Gizmodo. The late Steve Jobs even went so far as to accuse Gizmodo of extortion, although a lack of evidence scuppered potential criminal charges.

But the newspaper does not question the sanity of anyone willing to pay £53,000 for a phone that costs £619 when not in prototype guise.

As expected, Apple has not commented on the sale.

On the flipside, these enthusiastic bidders may be looking at their potential purchase as an investment in an incredibly rare version of a smartphone that they can sell on in the future like a piece of high-tech art. The world holds its breath.

Steve Jobs time capsule unearthed with Lisa mouse after 30 years underground

14 Feb 2014


A time capsule that included a computer mouse owned by the late Steve Jobs has been unearthed in California.

The capsule was buried in 1983 at the International Design Conference. It was filled with numerous items from the era, such as a Vogue magazine and a Rubik’s Cube. However, it was always known as the Steve Jobs’ Capsule because of the inclusion of his mouse that was used on his first Lisa computer.

The appearance by Jobs at the conference is regarded as a key moment in Apple's, and that of the wider industry's history, as he made several predictions there that came true.

“We will find a way to put (a computer) in a shoebox and sell it for $2,500, and finally, we’ll find a way to put it in a book," he said.

The capsule was supposed to have been dug up in 2000, but the coordinates of its location were lost when the conference went out of business. There it stayed until a TV show called Diggers got in on the act.

In a blog post promoting the find, the show explains that co-leads KG and Ringy had tracked down members of the capsule committee to discover the item's whereabouts.

As luck would have it the work proved successful and like modern-day pirates they uncovered the buried treasure. Like any good American should, the team whoop and holler with great excitement when they find the item, which you can see on 25 February, if you live in the US.

By V3's Dan Worth, who always has his head in the ground

Steve Jobs' legacy still looms large at Apple but device design moves on

04 Oct 2013

Steve Jobs

Saturday marked two years since the tech industry came together to mourn the passing of Steve Jobs after his long-running battle with cancer.

His legacy has, if anything, only grown since, with films made to celebrate his life and every decision made at Apple in the last two years scrutinised with the question: “What would Steve have done?”.

Jobs still does – and probably always will – loom in the background of Apple, as shown by a message on Twitter from chief executive Tim Cook posted on the weekend.

Cook also sent an email to staff urging them to remember the legacy of Jobs and reflect on what his work meant to them, and the company as a whole.

"Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of Steve’s death. I hope everyone will reflect on what he meant to all of us and to the world. Steve was an amazing human being and left the world a better place. I think of him often and find enormous strength in memories of his friendship, vision and leadership," he wrote.

"He left behind a company that only he could have built and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. We will continue to honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to the work he loved so much. There is no higher tribute to his memory. I know that he would be proud of all of you."

However, despite this remembrance and reverence for Jobs, there has been a clear move over the last two years by the firm, led by Cook, to move on and break old directives set by Jobs.

Nowhere is this more obvious than screen size. Jobs was always adamant that a 3.5in screen was more than enough for any smartphone, ignoring the craze for larger screens led by a raft of Android phones.

But since then Apple has brought out a trio of 4in devices – the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S – which everyone would now agree have improved the iPhone range.

In tablets, too, Jobs once decried the notion of a 7in iPad. “Seven-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. Seven-inch tablets are dead on arrival,” he said.

Now the iPad Mini – just sneaking in at 7.9in – has arrived on the market and is a revelation, making the larger iPad devices look clunky and unwieldy. 

In many ways Apple had to make these moves, and one could quite easily imagine Jobs applying his ‘Reality distortion field (RDF)‘ to his former statements as he unveiled the same devices anyway to ensure the firm remained at the top of the market.

Nevertheless, it is now an Apple that has changed since Jobs, with new designs and ideas coming to the fore. This can also be seen in the iOS 7 operating system, which, under the leadership of Sir Jony Ive, represents a new chapter in Apple's history in which Jobs has had no direct influence.

Elsewhere, the firm also appears ever so slightly mellower, with Cook able to swallow his pride and apologise for mistakes – such as the Apple Maps launch – in a way that Jobs seemed incapable of doing, as the 'antennagate' saga proved.

Despite these changes, Apple's success, as witnessed by the huge sales of the iPhone 5S, continues thanks to the decisions set down and seen through by Jobs that have seen tablets and smartphones radically alter both the business and consumer landscapes.

Steve Jobs biopic falls far short of opening weekend success of the iPhone 5

19 Aug 2013

The highly anticipated Steve Jobs biopic has had a somewhat disastrous week, failing to achieve the box office success it expected, taking just $6.7m after being played in 2,381 locations.

The figure was revealed by Cinema news website Box Office Mojo, which also gave the movie a middling B-rating for its "deification of Steve Jobs".

The sentiment was mirrored by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who made a similar criticism, arguing that Ashton Kutcher was overly kind in his portrayal of Jobs, in a public review he posted on Gizmodo.

"I saw the movie tonight. I thought the acting throughout was good. I was attentive and entertained but not greatly enough to recommend the movie. One friend who is in the movie said he didn't want to watch fiction so he wasn't interested in seeing it. I suspect a lot of what was wrong with the film came from Ashton's own image of Jobs," he said.

"I felt bad for many people I know well who were portrayed wrongly in their interactions with Jobs and the company. The movie ends pretty much where the great Jobs finally found product success (the iPod) and changed so many of our lives. I'm grateful to Steve for his excellence in the i-era, and his contribution to my own life of enjoying great products, but this movie portrays him having had those skills in earlier times."

With this in mind, it's unsurprising that the film failed to meet its $8m to $9m opening week sales projections and did not match the performance of Jobs' creations such as the iPhone 5, which broke the five-million sales mark in its opening weekend. Still, considering how interesting Jobs was and what great insights the original 2011 biography book by Walter Isaacson gave into his life, this still feels like a missed opportunity for cinema gold.

Here's hoping we get a better look at Jobs the second time round when the Wozniak-approved biopic comes out later this year.

Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson

Steve Jobs emails shed new light on development of iBooks

18 Jun 2013

Apple's Steve JobsLate Apple founder Steve Jobs is once again in the spotlight as his company works to fight price-fixing allegations.

As the company continues to square off with the US Department of Justice over charges that it collaborated with publishers to set prices for the entire e-books market through its iBooks marketplace service, a set of emails sent by Jobs has become the focus of the case and provided a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Apple.

The emails, sent to Apple executive Eddy Cue during the development of the iBooks service in late 2009, show that Jobs was playing a leading role in the development of the service. They could be vital in proving that Apple knew its model – which allows publishers to set their own price and then pay a percentage of revenues to Apple – would limit the ability of other retailers to set their own prices for e-book titles.

That Jobs had been playing a central role in the development of the iBooks service hardly comes as a surprise. During his tenure the Apple CEO was notorious for micromanaging the company and was said to have been particularly active in the development of new products.

With more emails being released in the court, however, lawyers have revealed that Jobs dictated such fine points as how pages should animate and what books will be used in the unveiling of the service and subsequent demos.

That style could also end up costing Apple a significant amount of money some two years after Jobs died from complications resulting from pancreatic cancer. With all of the publishers named in the case having settled, Apple is the lone defendant remaining and could find itself being made an example of if the court finds that Jobs knowingly acted to fix prices.

The decision could also impact Apple's other lucrative retail services. The company maintains a nearly identical structure for the iTunes and App Store services, allowing developers and publishers to set their own prices and pay a 20 percent cut of revenues to Apple. If iBooks is shot down, pressure could build on the company to change its policies with other services.

Google chief Larry Page affected by rare throat condition

15 May 2013

Google chief executive Larry Page

Last year Google chief executive Larry Page set off a flurry of speculation when he missed time at the firm due to health issues.

The issues were initially played off by Google execs who said Page had lost his voice due to an unspecified illness. The issue was not said to be serious and Page eventually returned to work.

One year later, Page is finally opening up, saying that the issue with his voice is in fact a chronic condition but is not life-threatening or debilitating. In a post to his Google+ page, the company co-founder said that he has struggled with paralysis in both of his vocal cords.

According to Page, one vocal cord was damaged following a cold 14 years ago, while another began to suffer paralysis last year. The condition has since improved and Page said he's able to speak with colleagues again, joking that co-founder Sergey Brin "says I’m probably a better CEO because I choose my words more carefully".

The disclosure comes with news that Page is working to push a study on individuals with such rare vocal cord paralysis issues. He is hoping to help gather data from patients with similar conditions in hopes of gleaming more information.

It also rehashes a debate that has existed in the IT sector ever since Steve Jobs first shed light on the battle with cancer, which would eventually claim his life. In companies where the chief executive plays such a prominent role in guiding the company, how much of their own health should executives be expected to share?

We now know that Page's life was never in danger from his condition and the company was none the worse for his brief absence. But in the wake of Jobs' death and Apple's struggles since, investors may become worried when the face of the company takes ill. That said, chief executives also have a right to privacy, and in such cases the board should protect their executives from any intrusion while also assuring investors that things are under control.


Apple chief Tim Cook fetches big bucks in charity auction

26 Apr 2013

Apple chief executive Tim Cook

CharityBuzz is offering bidders the chance to have a cup of coffee with Apple chief executive Tim Cook. Bids are currently at $210,000 for the once and a lifetime chance to drink coffee with the guy who introduced the iPhone 5.

So far, 58 bidders have jumped on the chance to spend quality time with Cook. Those interested in the having a cup of Joe with Cook have until 14 May to make their dreams come true.

For those bidders who may try to milk their time with Cook, be warned that the coffee chat will last no longer than an hour. According to the auctions terms, Cook will not have coffee with anymore than two people and the winning bidder must supply their own travel to Apple HQ.

The auction brings up an obvious question. What would you talk about with the leader of Apple? Would you ask him about Steve Jobs? Whether the iWatch is for real? Can you have tea instead of coffee? There are just so many topics to cover and so little time.

No matter what the winning bidder talks about, the winning funds go to a good cause. All proceeds from the auction will go to the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. The group works to increase human rights around the globe.

Hopefully, Tim Cook's charitable nature extends to other past and present Apple executives. V3 looks forward to the day when former Apple chief executive John Sculley offers charitable souls the chance to spend a weekend with him.

Sculley is well renowned for firing Steve Jobs and selling sugar water. Perhaps Sculley could offer someone the chance to hang out for a total of two days in his derelict mansion.

For those unaware, Sculley's mansion is known as a design oddity that puts aesthetics over functionality. Architecture Digest called Sculley's mansion, "the architectural equivalent of the Apple III" and "the worst piece of design they have ever seen".

During your stay with Sculley you could be delighted with stories of the Newton PDA, Macintosh Portable, and what it's like to yell at Steve Jobs.

Using big data and creativity for social good

11 Apr 2013

Big data illustration from 8 September 2011 Computing

Google just announced its plans to enlist big data in the fight against human trafficking. The search giant will work with three advocacy groups to collect and analyse data from human trafficking hotlines.

The work is aimed to stifle human trafficking by bringing about a shared data platform for anti-trafficking groups. By using big data, advocacy groups can identify trafficking hotspots and create stronger strategies to put an end to traffickers.

Google's work in the field is an illuminating reminder of the types of projects big data can take on. Big data doesn't have to be used just to create the perfect targeted ad or discover the biggest IT bottleneck.

Big data can also be used to solve a variety of the world's ills. The potential big data holds for the greater good can't be underestimated. From being able to project future crime sprees to solving big city traffic jams, big data holds the key to fighting a variety of societal troubles.

That is one of the reasons why the lack of qualified big data analysts is so troubling. We can have all the data in the world but if we don't have qualified analysts it won't mean anything.

Knowledgeable and creative big data scientist will be crucial if the industry ever hopes to create some sort of major social change. The world will need scientists who not only know what they are doing technically, but also have the creativity needed to use data in unique ways.

Last year, Oracle president Mark Hurd made the comment that most big data is "worthless". According to Hurd, 99.9 percent of big data is unusable.

His assessment may hold weight in the sense that most data will not help a business improve its infrastructure. However, the idea that most big data is useless in the greater context of society is off base.

To truly use data to uncover societal truths we need imaginative analysts, who can take seemingly benign data and transform it into real-world solutions.

It's already being done to some extent. Analysts are already finding data links between things like home census data and food shortages or telecommunications and natural disasters.

By now it's become a cliché to say the world needs more Steve Jobs, but it's the truth. Steve Jobs (and the many pioneers of the computing age) took the technology of their time and brought a sense of creative thinking to it.

We need a generation of Steve Jobs. The technology exists to such a point that creative thinking can change the world. Tech like big data can be used to revolutionise how we think about the world's problems.

With creativity and know-how a data analyst can do amazing things. Not just in business, but also for society as a whole.

Now, it's up to clever people to take up an interest in the field. To do that people will need equal parts ingenuity and opportunity. They'll need the opportunity to learn and discover the power of the trade. They'll also need to understand big data is more than just statistics.

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