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SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 23: Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller announces the new iPad Mini. It's smaller and lighter and $329 for a 16GB WiFi-only version. And it arrives just in time for the holidays!
Apple is currently rolling out some new products in San Francisco. So far, we've seen a new MacBook Pro and a thinner and sexier iteration of the iMac, which is just another word for "planned obsolescence" in Apple-land.
But the main event is yet to come: A smaller iPad, about 8 inches in size, called "iPad Mini."
Unlike the iPhone 5, which prior to launch I argued was doomed — DOOMED! — the iPad Mini/Air/Junior/Deuce/Whatever could succeed wildly. Here's why...
Apple owns the tablet market, so it's no big deal to steal share from itself. Apple has sold 100 million iPads in the two years since its introduction. As I and others have pointed out, there is no tablet market. There's an iPad market. However, since the arrival of the Kindle Fire and now the Microsoft Surface, there is some pressure on Cupertino. iPad Mini naysayers argue that a smaller, cheaper tablet will cannibalize the Big Boy. Probably true. But the thing is, Apple can afford to cannibalize the iPad, with a base iPad Mini that's $329 in the 16 GB WiFi-only version. And if it steals some lower-end market share from Amazon ... well, there's nothing wrong with that.
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos addresses a press conference. The online mega-retailer will start charging California customers sales tax.
In just a few days — September 15, to be exact — Amazon will have to start collecting sales tax from Californians who buy stuff (and boy, does Amazon sell a lot of stuff these days) from the online mega-retailer. Last year, Amazon struck a deal with the state. In exchange for getting the statutory sales-tax deadline extended by a year, the company agreed to drop a ballot-measure battle it was gearing up for; and to create a total of about 35,000 full- and part-time jobs in the state by 2015.
So what does this all ultimately mean? Let's break it down.
Q: I'm buying stuff like crazy from Amazon ahead of the deadline. Am I really getting out of paying sales tax?
A: Legally, no. While the sales-tax deadline was extended, the "use tax" provision of state law wasn't waived. As the L.A. Times points out, taking a very hardline position, you were never technically getting away with skipping the sales tax before this whole thing came to a head last year. If you made purchases through Amazon, you were supposed to calculate the sales tax yourself and send it in. Amazon will now start doing that for you, but you're officially liable for the tax that you should have paid as sales tax on all those flatscreen TVs, tennis rackets, and Kindle Fires you picked up over the course of the past 12 months.
Photo by pablofalv via Flickr Creative Commons
E-books cost more here.
Apple and a couple of holdout publishers have been hit by a Department of Justice lawsuit accusing them of colluding to fix e-book prices at a level higher than Amazon's flat $9.99 rate for the Kindle reader and other devices. The practice, which was allegedly timed to happen when the original iPad was released, allowed publishers to set the price at as much as $14.99, with Apple taking its customary 30 percent cut.
The government's lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, described CEO-only meetings of publishers at which the alleged conspiracy was hashed out. The suit alleged that the publishers' chief executives met starting in September 2008 or earlier "in private dining rooms of upscale Manhattan restaurants" and "no legal counsel was present at any of these meetings."
The suit describes the shift from the traditional "wholesale" pricing model, under which retailers set the price of both electronic and physical books, to an "agency" model under which publishers set the price and retailers take a commission.