Apple revealed its suppliers in response to harsh criticism that it was turning a blind eye to dismal working conditions at partner factories. Apple’s audit found six active and 13 historical cases of underage labor at some component suppliers. It also found a number of other violations, among them breaches in pay, benefits and environmental practices in plants in China, which figured prominently throughout the 500-page report Apple issued. Other violations found in the audit included dumping wastewater onto a neighboring farm, using machines without safeguards, testing workers for pregnancy and falsifying pay records.
“I would like to totally eliminate every case of underage employment,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told Reuters in an interview. “We have done that in all of our final assembly. As we go deeper into the supply chain, we found that age verification system isn’t sophisticated enough. This is something we feel very strongly about and we want to eliminate totally.”
ICANN, the body that oversees the Internet’s naming system, gave the green light for organizations to begin applying to name and run their own domains instead of entrusting them to the operators of .com, .org, .gov and others. Up to 2,000 applications were expected for the so-called “top-level” international domains. At $185,000 per application, estimated start-up costs of $500,000 and annual running costs of about $100,000, a .yournamehere domain will be out of reach of the smallest companies and organizations. But applications were expected from cities or regions with strong identities, such as .london and .mumbai, from companies aiming to build a business based on new domains, and from community identifiers like .eco or .gay.
Samsung is open to forging an alliance with troubled Olympus, potentially joining other electronics firms in circling one of the world’s biggest names in medical equipment, sources said. Samsung has ruled out any interest in Olympus’s loss-making camera business, but a company source said that it might consider an alliance with Olympus in other areas. Earlier, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that Olympus was scouting for a friendly investor to take a minority stake in the company, and that Olympus had drawn up a short-list of five potential partners, including Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Japanese medical-equipment firm Terumo, and Fujifilm Holdings.
Microsoft has put its talks with media companies about an online subscription service for TV shows and movies on hold, according to people familiar with the discussions. The company had been in intense talks with potential programming partners for over a year and was hoping to roll out the service in the next few months. But it pulled back after deciding that the licensing costs were too high for the business model Microsoft envisaged, the sources said. Microsoft is still working to distribute TV shows over the Web, focusing on delivering programming via its Xbox gaming system to existing cable subscribers.
Dell intends to launch its first consumer tablet computer in late 2012, marking its entry into a hotly contested arena that has already claimed arch-foe HP. The Texas company had dipped its toe in the waters with an enterprise-focused, “Streak” tablet. Chief commercial officer Steve Felice was coy about which operating system Dell might adopt — Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 or Google’s Android — saying both were viable options. But Felice did say he liked the feel of Microsoft’s touch-enabled OS, which would be well-timed when it emerges later this year.