The Circuit: Apple’s Jobs resigns, China cyber-security, FCC looks into cellphone blackouts

August 25, 2011

LEADING THE DAY: In a sudden but not surprising announcement, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced Wednesday that he is stepping down as the company’s top executive, The Washington Post reported.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know,” wrote Jobs in his resignation letter. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Jobs, the co-founder who returned for a 14-year stint at Apple’s helm in 1994, is credited with turning the company around from near-bankruptcy to a tech behemoth that has produced several industry-changing products including the iPhone and iPad.

He will be succeeded by Apple COO Tim Cook, who has been acting as Apple’s top executive since Jobs went on medical leave in January. Although the company’s stock has taken a hit on the stock market in after-hours trading, analysts say that faith in Cook’s ability to run the company will likely keep Apple afloat.

Jobs will remain at Apple as chairman and Bloomberg reported that he will stay as a member of the board at the Walt Disney Co.

China cyber-attacks: China’s denials that it is engaging in cyber-attacks are being undermined by a clip in a 22-minute documentary showing a military computer targeting a U.S.-based Falun Gong Web site, The Washington Post reported. Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, declined to elaborate on the images in the video but told The Post: “It’s no secret that Falun Gong and its subordinate institutions have been intensifying their subversive efforts against China in cyberspace. And China has every legitimate right to take action against such harmful activities to defend its national security interests.”

Chinese government officials have said that their country’s laws do not allow the disruption of computer networks, but international authorities and private companies have said that China is a source for major cyber-attacks.

Post-quake outages draw scrutiny: The Federal Communications Commission has asked for more information about congestion and outages on major cellular networks following the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the East Coast on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.

Saying that such disruptions “put lives at risk,” FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett said that the agency has asked wireless carriers and public safety networks for information to help determine why there were outages following the quake.

Hulu bids extended?: Bids for the online video streaming site Hulu have reportedly been extended, according to a report from Variety. Citing unnamed sources, the report said that Wednesday had been a “soft deadline” for companies to bid on the service, which is owned jointly by News Corp., NBC Universal, Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners.

Reuters reported Wednesday that Yahoo, Google, Amazon, DirecTV. An SK Telecom spokesperson denied reports that the South Korean broadcaster was in the hunt for the service, MarketWatch reported.

FCC asks about AT&T LTE rollout: The FCC is asking AT&T for more information about the company’s claims that it needs to buy T-Mobile in order to fulfill its promise to rollout 4G LTE coverage to 97 percent of the country, The Washington Post reported.

The news comes after someone accidentally uploaded unredacted documents to the FCC’s filing system, revealing that AT&T had figured it would cost $3.8 billion to bring the high-speed service to cover that much of the country. AT&T has played down the significance of those documents, which raised criticism from Free Press and others questioning why the company wanted to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion, given its own lower cost estimate.

The company also played down the FCC’s request.

“Requests from the FCC staff for additional information are to be expected given the detailed review they are undertaking,” AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris told The Post.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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