Data mining

Surveillance requests

Last week I reported on the burning issue of today – data mining by the largest US companies Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Two weeks ago these companies all called on the government to allow them to publish more details about the nature and number of requests for information they receive. So according to The New York Times the companies had received thousands of  requests from federal, state and local authorities for customer data between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013. Nevertheless, they denied giving any personal information of their customers in response to the requests.

Connections between companies and spy agencies.

Although facts provided by the New York Times later the same week speak to the contrary and support the guesses of the international community and Americans, that convergence between Silicon Valley and the N.S.A. does exist and the data mining is rising. For axample, Chief security officer of Facebook who left the company in 2010 later joined the National Security Agency. Silicon Valley is great source of information for the spy agency: it operates great amounts of private data and has the most sophisticated software available to analyze it. The article argues that in order to get access to the latest software technology and to take advantage of large volumes of data, United States intelligence agencies invest in Silicon Valley start-ups, award classified contracts and recruit technology experts like Facebook former chief security officer Mr. Kelly.

Is data mining only a current issue or it should be examined as a long-term phenomenon?

Although the topic is so much discussed only in the last couple of months, it seems to be be there for about six years already. The N.S.A.’s internet-based surveillance program PRISM was founded in 2007.The Guardian claims, PRISM began with data from Microsoft in 2007. The program began collecting data from Yahoo in 2008 and from Google, Facebook and the message system PalTalk in 2009, followed by YouTube, Skype and Apple. However, most of those companies now deny any knowledge that a programm like PRISM exists.

What information is being collected?

U.S. officials have acknowledged collecting domestic telephone records containing the time and date of calls and telephone numbers involved, as well as rough location information.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with NSA activities, claimed that the agency has also collected credit card records, without clarifying if it is continuing or was a one-time effort.

However, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reassured Americans saying that the telephone records go into a database, where they can’t be accessed unless a judge gives the go-ahead in a national-security investigation.      

Are these action legal?                                                                                                                                                                     

It is a highly controversial topic if these actions of the US Government can be considered legal. The senators wrote “As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows”.



In my last week`s post I stepped back a little from technological aspects and concentrated on corporate ethics in Apple. This week I´m going to do soas well as I would like to reflect on the hot issue of the last weeks which is surveillance scandal involving companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Last week these companies all called on the government to allow them to publish more details about the nature and number of requests for information they receive.

I was surprised to learn that Apple, for example, had received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from federal, state and local authorities for customer data between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013.

Facebook and Microsoft also released similar aggregate numbers of surveillance requests, claiming it received requests affecting about 51,000 consumer accounts.

Shocking number, aren`t they?

My research for this assignment helped me to take a more critical look at the “The future is digital” data and realize ones again that we have to pay a curtain price for always being mobile and online – invasion of our privacy.


High profits or ethics: what is really important?

So my previous post was about Apple’s marketing strategy which seems to be one of the most powerful tools to the company`s success.  Apple is still the world´s most profitable technology company. So when you start thinking about profitability and cost minimization, marketing turns to be not that helpful and powerful. Almost every big company tries to  reduce its cost and expenses, as for example taxes.

It was totally new for me that Apple managed to avoid millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states just by putting its headquarters in Nevada. The trick is that California’s corporate tax rate is 8.84 % while Nevada’s –  zero.

Moreover,  Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.

Of course, we are talking now about legal “loopholes” that help to minimize a company’s tax bill that were found by Apple’s accountants in 2006 as Apple’s bank accounts and stock price were rising.

For example, this year Apple managed to reduce its tax bill by $2.4 billion. A huge number, especially if you imagine how many Apple products are being sold all around the globe every year.

On the other hand, some people argue that Apple does a lot of charity work, donating money for example, to Stanford University and some African aid organizations.

So it seems to be a complicated issue to find a balance between profitability, customer recognition and ethics.


Apple’s marketing

Apple marketing strategy – simple is better!

In my assignment for the last week I focused on simplicity as one of Apple’s major design principles. Nevertheless, I was still wondering how Apple manages to hold leading market positions in the increasingly competitive market. So maybe the reason is their marketing strategy? So in my post for this week I focus on Apple’s marketing principles.

So I found an article in the Aspired Techie that focuses on this topic. According to the article there are several principles that Apple uses to market its products:

1) Effective Advertisement

Apple doesn’t want to challenge people’s intellect and throw all kinds of computing or mobile jargons at them, Apple sticks to the basic instead. If we look at the latest ad campaign for iPhone 4, rather than concentrating on its powerful processors it simply magnifies some of its very basic functions such as improved picture quality and email experience.

2) Presentations

Presentations seem to be the area where Apple beats all other industrial giants such as Microsoft, Nokia or even Samsung. And the secret is ones again simplicity and using a language a common person right off the street can understand.

From presentations to advertisements, Apple marketing strategy has been in a language people can understand and that is definitely one of the biggest reasons why they are so successful.

3) Brand Loyalty

The article argues that unlike most of its rivals, Apple especially is not known to care for the budget of a commoner. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that Apple, ever since it’s foundation, has only targeted a certain brand conscious class. For that very reason, none of the products of Apple are meant to fall within the budget of a normal man but more and more people are willing to have Apple products than ever before, since it is established to represent a certain ‘class’.

For example Nokia manufactures all kinds of phones, addressing different target audiences. Nevertheless, even being economical as well as reliable, Nokia has lost significant market share to Apple, the brand that refuses to lower its prices. More and more people are changing their loyalties in favor of a brand that comes with a promise of delivering or more importantly, enrolling them in ‘the class’.

Source: http://www.aspiredtechie.com/apple-marketing-strategy/

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