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Mix: Push GMail, Microsoft retail, AT&T MMS, iPhone accounting

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, September 22, 2009
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Google has launched push GMail support for its Google Sync service, allowing iPhone and iPod touch users, along with users of other mobile devices, to receive emails from their Gmail accounts almost instantly. Previously available for Google Calendars and Contacts, Sync is a two-way push synchronization service that allows users to update information from either their iPhone or iPod touch, using the built-in Calendar and Contacts applications, or from any traditional computer, using the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol. For more information on Google Sync or to set up the service on a device, visit m.google.com/sync.

As part of its retail store initiative, Microsoft has been attempting to lure Apple retail store employees away from their current positions to work at Microsoft’s upcoming stores, according to a new report. Citing multiple anonymous sources, The Loop reports that Microsoft has been contacting Apple retail store managers, offering “significant raises,” in addition to moving expenses, when necessary. Once hired by Microsoft, the former Apple employees have been contacting top sales people from their prior stores, offering them positions at Microsoft’s stores, often with increased pay. Microsoft has been modeling its retail store experience on Apple’s; it plans to open its first stores this fall.

AT&T has started notifying iPhone customers of its impending launch of Multimedia Messaging Service for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. According to an AppleInsider screenshot, the text message to customers reads, “[p]icture & video messaging (MMS) will be available for iPhone on 9/25. While we prepare your account for MMS capability, the current ‘view my message’ experience will be turned off but your ability to send and receive text messages will not be affected.” Recent reports indicate that the company has already started activating MMS service for some customers; the feature’s official launch is scheduled for September 25.

The United States Financial Accounting Standards Board will vote tomorrow on a proposed accounting rule change that could allow Apple to abandon its practice of subscription accounting for the iPhone. As we reported last week, Apple has lobbied the FASB to change these rules as more devices become dependent on software for their core functionality, such as the iPod touch, which up until now has seen each major update come at a cost due to the different methods used to account for its revenue. The FASB’s Emerging Issues Task Force decided in favor of the rule change during a meeting on September 10; if approved by the FASB tomorrow, the new rules could take effect as soon as the start of Apple’s next fiscal year, which begins on September 27.

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Comments

1

huh…you mean, all the people who were having to pay for ipod touch upgrades were required to do so by governmental rules, and not a “greedy corporation”? 

I, for one, am SHOCKED that the government causes WAY more problems than they solve. wink

Posted by shawn on September 22, 2009 at 1:10 PM (PDT)

2

Nice try, #1, but the FASB is a private-sector group, not a governmental entity. It’s made up of people with mostly accounting and finance backgrounds. The FASB has a cozy relationship with some governmewnt agencies, but it’s essentially an industry group. See fasb.org (not.gov) for more info.

Posted by orgel in Falls Church, VA on September 22, 2009 at 1:22 PM (PDT)

3

All the rules ever said was that you had to defer reporting the portion of revenue that you collected for a future “product” if you considered those future products to have value.

So, let’s say Apple estimated the typical touch owner would keep the device for two years and Apple would deliver two major iPhone OS updates during this same period. Apple would then have to estimate how much they expected each update would cost Apple and out of the gross revenue collected from each touch sale they would have to defer reporting the cost of the update until it was actually delivered.

That’s all the rules ever said. Apple and anyone else was more than able to give out all the free updates they wanted, they would just have to effectively escrow some percentage of the gross revenue to comply with SOX act. Since that would have delayed reporting 100% of the profits from touch sales instantly (and is what they call “confusing”), Apple opted for the “let’s just lie and say the government forced us to charge you $10”.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on September 22, 2009 at 4:33 PM (PDT)

4

#2…and, why does it exist?

Posted by shawn on September 22, 2009 at 4:45 PM (PDT)

5

“The SEC has statutory authority to establish financial accounting and reporting standards for publicly held companies under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Throughout its history, however, the Commission’s policy has been to rely on the private sector for this function to the extent that the private sector demonstrates ability to fulfill the responsibility in the public interest.”

I’ll offer some of a mea culpa. smile  Though, existing with the threat of non-existance if the gov isn’t happy with your actions is not exactly a wonderful situation.

Regardless, I jumped on my hobby horse too quickly.

Posted by shawn on September 22, 2009 at 4:51 PM (PDT)

6

#5: Mea culpa accepted. You should realize, though, that this is a normal part of the the way things work (here in DC, at any rate). FASB is more tightly tied to the SEC than are some other industry groups with respect to their “governing” agencies, but the raison d’etre for most trade associations—in part, anyway—is to get folks in a particular industry to come up with sensible, safe ways of doing things on their own so that the government deosn’t step in and tell them how to do it.

#3: I’m not about to defend _any_ accounting practice, but if the relevant standards-making body says it’s okay to do something a certain way and it makes business sense to do it, then that something is likely to happen. Did Apple trade off some customer goodwill for some bottom-line goodness? Sure thing, but multi-billion-dollar corporations need to keep analysts and stockholders happy, and that’s likely what Apple was trying to do with this practice. I’m guessing that if FASB approves the rule change, Apple will switch over to free software updates for the iPod Touch, and so Touch owners’ endless nightmare will soon be over.

Also, FWIW, I’m very skeptical that Apple ever claimed the government was forcing it to charge for the updates. You might be confusing this practice by Apple with certain fees charged by the wireless carriers. wink

Posted by orgel in Falls Church, VA on September 23, 2009 at 11:40 AM (PDT)

7

I live in TN and just got my update on iTunes…never got the SMS from ATT though! MMS is working fine no problems here!

Posted by Krista on September 25, 2009 at 10:19 AM (PDT)

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