Apple may get 80% tax break to build new Texas campus

Just late last month, it was reported that the Austin City Council had approved Apple’s $8.6M grant for the new Texas campus. Apple has invested $300 million in Austin, Texas to add 3,600 more workers. Now, Travis Country officials are considering giving Apple an 80 percent tax rebate worth $7.4 million if the company builds the proposed campus in Austin, Texas. This would add two other multi-million dollar government subsidies already being offer to Apple.

Statesman reports that although a formal agreement has yet to be reached, a discussion during a closed session hearing on Tuesday may grant Apple an 80 percent tax incentive for the next 10 years — with the possibility of a five year extension. Pay ranges for new hires are expected to be between $54,000 and $73,500, depending on qualifications and position.

If this deal goes through, Apple will become the second-largest private employer in Austin, behind only Dell. The facility will be built on 38 acres of land with at least one million square feet of office space and will function as a new “Americas Operations center” for the company.

 

Ashton Kutcher Believes Steve Jobs Role Meant for Him

Last weekend, we reported that Ashton Kutcher will play Steve Jobs in the upcoming indie film “Jobs”. Today, The Daily spoke with Five Star Institute’s Mark Hulme who is producing the upcoming Steve Jobs film that is starring Ashton Kutcher. Hulme says that Kutcher is “pouring himself” into the role and “believes the role was meant for him”.

Ashton Steve Jobs

Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, appears to be happy with the decision too.

The fear that many might have is that Ashton was selected because he’s ‘hot’ right now. But I feel that his selection was done in the most professional manner. And I’m glad that he’s onboard. I think he’ll put a lot into it and that he cares about this particular subject.

When the news was first broke, people had mixed feelings, but Hulme is confident in Kutcher’s abilities as well as his personal interest in the role. They are set to start filming next month and film is set to start filming next month for release and is expected to be released by Thanksgiving of this year. The focus will be on Steve Jobs’s earlier life. In fact, his earlier life and early days at Apple have been portrayed in other films such as Pirates of Silicon Valley. If you haven’t watched it already, I highly suggest you do.

This film about Steve Jobs was reportedly being worked on prior to the passing away of Steve Jobs and before Walter Isaacson’s Jobs biography was published. Sony has purchased the rights to Isaascon’s biography and is working on their own film about Steve Jobs.

 

One Third of U.S. High School Students Now Own an iPhone

Analyst Piper Jaffray from analytical firm Gene Munster today has published (via MacRumors) a report on his firm’s latest semi-annual survey of U.S. teenagers, the 23rd such survey in the firm’s history. The extensive survey of 5,600 U.S. high school students revealed that 34% of surveyed students now own an iPhone. This is an all time high in the survey and is double the percentage from just a year ago. In addition, 40% of surveyed students indicated that they will purchase an iPhone within the next six months.

Jaffray regards the rapid growth in iPhone use among students to the new low cost options from Apple. Last January, Apple and AT&T lowered the price of the iPhone 3GS to $49. With the introduction of the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 3GS was made free on-contract.

Also, the 40% purchase intent rate for the next six months is the same among current iPhone owners and those who do not yet own an iPhone.

The report also revealed some interesting tidbits regarding the use of tablets among students. In the tablet space, 34% of students reported that they own some sort of tablet device, with 70% reporting that they own an iPad. 53% of those iPad owners also own an iPhone. In fact, the iPad’s momentum maybe even starting to gain even more steam, with 19% of students indicating that they plan to purchase a tablet within the next six months. 80% of those students are planning to purchase an iPad.

Jaffray also believes that the new $399 entry price for the iPad 2 is a significant pull in the student market.

Apple Announces Q2 2012 Earnings Conference Call for April 24

Apple has just updated its Investor Relations page on its website to notify its shareholders and the general public that the company’s second-quarter financial conference call will occur on April 24th at 2 PM PST.

The company has posted the following on its investor relations page:

Apple plans to conduct a conference call to discuss financial results of its second fiscal quarter on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. PT

In addition, the earnings call will be streamed live to shareholders and press via Apple’s website, The stream will allow iOS device owners to listen to the call if their devices run iOS 4.2 or higher. Also, the stream will be accessible via a Quicktime-enabled computer.

On January 24th, Apple reported its best quarter ever. Apple reported $46.33 billion in revenue, with earnings of $13.87 per share and net profit in Q1 was $13.06 billion. Though Wall Street doesn’t expect Apple to have a big a quarter as last time, it has steadily been raising its projections based on the new iPad and strong demand for the iPhone 4S.

Confirmed: Bloom Energy to Power Apple’s Fuel Cell Farm in North Carolina

Last month, we reported that Apple had touted plans for a massive solar farm and fuel cell facility in Maiden, North Carolina. A report also suggested that Bloom Energy, maker of the “Bloom Box” energy server, was believed to be the supplier behind Apple’s planned 5-megawatt fuel cell farm in North Carolina.

Today, a filing with North Carolina’s Utilities Commission confirms that report. Apple’s 5 megawatt fuel center will indeed use Bloom Energy’s “Bloom Energy Servers”. It is also said to be the largest of its kind outside of an electric company installations. Up to 50 Bloom Boxes, each capable of supplying 100 kilowatts of power, would meet Apple’s advertised 5-megawatt capacity at the new fuel cell farm.

According to the filing, the fuel cells will be installed within the year and will join the company’s 500,000 square feet data center that powers iCloud right across from it.  Also, the company has already started Bloom Energy Servers on Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. “That’s a huge vote of confidence in fuel cells,” said James Warner, policy director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association in Washington.

Apparently, this will also be the home of iCloud and Siri voice agent.

 

Facebook Updates iOS Apps for iPad’s Retina Display

Knowing Facebook’s track record for updating their iOS apps, it is a surprise that the company has updated the app for the iPad’s Retina display so quickly! Today, Facebook has released v4.1.1 an update for its native iOS app.

Facebook iPad Retina display

The main addition of this update is the new Retina display graphics for Apple’s latest generation iPad. In addition, options for several new languages have been added. The update has added support for Czech, Danish, Greek, Indonesian, Malaysian, Norwegian (Bokmal), Portuguese (Portugal), and Thai. Also, users who wish to go offline from Facebook chat now have the option to manually appear offline.

Several bugs have been fixed as well. Now a person’s friends list should display all friends. User names will display correctly in photo sets, and profile images should load correctly in groups of people who like a particular Facebook page. Another bug that has been fixed is the cause of the accidental friend request notifications.

The Facebook app is available for free via the App Store.

Ashton Kutcher to Play Steve Jobs in Upcoming Indie Film “Jobs”

Last November, it was reported that a movie on Steve Jobs would be made. Apparently, it was reported that Aaron Sorkin was approached by Sony to write a movie about Steve Jobs.

Today, Variety reports that actor Ashton Kutcher will be playing Steve Jobs in an upcoming independent movie called Jobs.

The film will chronicle Steve Jobs from wayward hippie to co-founder of Apple, where he became one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of our time.

Ashton Kutcher was first known for his role as Michael Kelso in the sitcom That ’70s Show but has since seen success in movies and other TV series. In addition, Kutcher has been recently involved in Silicon Valley startups and technology investing.

Even though it is April Fools day, the author notes that they discussed holding the story until Monday, but were concerned about losing the scoop.

Apple May Settle DoJ eBook Investigation Soon

Earlier this month, reports suggested that the U.S Department of Justice (DoJ) was looking into filing a lawsuit against Apple and eBook published due to the “agency model” of pricing controlled by Apple leading up to the launch of its iBook store.

Reuters now reports that Apple and the DoJ are nearing a settlement deal that could occur within the next few weeks. The company is suspected of coming to a secret understanding with five major publishers to illegally increase the price of eBooks offered through its iBooks store. It has also been under investigation by the European Commission.

According to sources, while negotiations continue, Apple may agree to its so called “most favored nation” clause which blocked publishers from selling their books through other online stores like Amazon. One of the unnamed sources said that the upcoming deal could force Apple to use a “wholesale model”. This model would let retailers instead of publishers to control the pricing.

The publishers that are being investigated are Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan and HarperCollins.

Apple Agrees with iPad ‘4G’ Marketing Ruling in Australia, Encounters New Complaint in Norway

Oh boy, what a week it has been for Apple in Australia. Just this week, Apple had been accused by the Australian government of 4G marketing claims on the new iPad.

Apparently the issue was raised by the company’s use of “4G” in its marketing terms for the WiFi + 4G/LTE models of the new iPad. The company responded by offerring full refunds to Australian customers who felt misled about Apple’s 4G advertising. Currently, the iPad only works on 4G LTE networks in the United States and Canada.

Now, the Norwegian government has raised a complaint regarding this too. Similar to Australia, Norway has instructed the company to change the wording of its marketing materials.

The Norwegian Forbrukerombudet, or Consumer Ombudsman has expressed concern over the emphasis on the new iPad’s 4G LTE support and the description of the product as ‘designed with next-generation wireless technology”.

The Ombudsman has given Apple until April 10, 2012 to make the necessary changes.

‘Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition’ Coming to Mac

Last week, it was revealed that the popular 1998 role-playing game, Baldur’s Gate, is being remade by the original maker Overhaul games. Overhaul Games’s new version will be called Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition.

In addition, the company also announced that the new version will also be available for iPad and will be available in the summer of 2012. The company has now announced that the game will also be available for Mac in summer 2012 in the Mac App Store.

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition™ runs on an upgraded and improved version of the Infinity Engine. It includes the entire Baldur’s Gate adventure, the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion pack, and never before seen content including a new adventure and a new party member.

The company also reports that there will be many Mac OS X specific features “including widescreen and iCloud support”.