EU Fines Qualcomm $1.2B for Allegedly Paying Off Apple

Today’s topics include the EC’s $1.2 billion fine against Qualcomm for paying Apple to use its chips exclusively; Apple’s security updates to patch Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in macOS and iOS; Microsoft’s release of a Windows app analytics service for developers; and Lloyd’s of London’s estimate that a prolonged large-scale U.S. cloud outage would cause $19 billion in losses.

Qualcomm on Jan. 24 was slapped with a $1.2 billion antitrust fine by the European Commission for allegedly making billions of dollars in payments to Apple in exchange for exclusively using only Qualcomm's LTE chipsets in iPhones from 2011 to 2016. 

EC Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Qualcomm's actions "meant that no rival could effectively challenge Qualcomm in this market, no matter how good their products were.” The EC asserted that Qualcomm abused its dominant market position and blocked consumers from access to product choices and innovation in their devices.

The $1.2 billion fine, which represents about 4.9 percent of Qualcomm's revenue in 2017, "is aimed at deterring market players from engaging in such anti-competitive practices in the future," according to the EC.

Apple released its second set of security updates so far in 2018 on Jan. 23, bringing the Meltdown and Spectre patches to the macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 desktop operating system and the iOS 11.2.5 mobile operating system.

Apple released the previous set of updates on Jan. 8 and provided an initial set of patches for Meltdown and Spectre. The Meltdown Intel CPU vulnerability was initially only patched by Apple on its macOS 10.3 High Sierra operating system and is now being backported to the 10.12 Sierra and 10.11 El Capitan macOS releases.

Apple had previously addressed the related Spectre vulnerabilities for the Sierra and El Capitan operating systems in a Safari web browser update released Jan. 8.

Microsoft has launched a new online toolkit that developers can use to gauge how well their software is performing out in the wild and identify bugs and other potential issues that detract from the user experience.

Microsoft principal program manager Sonia Carlson said, "With the new Windows Desktop Program, developers now have a convenient, one-stop portal to view their desktop application analytics or access the data via an API. With these analytics, developers can better track and prioritize fixes, monitor the distribution of their applications, prepare and improve the overall experience for their customers."

Microsoft is providing these analytics capabilities to developers at no cost. To get started, developers sign up for the Windows Desktop Application Program with a valid Microsoft account and register their organization's certificates.

As organizations around the world increasingly rely on the cloud, the impact of a public cloud failure is something that insurance companies are now concerned about. A 67-page report titled “Cloud Down” released on Jan. 23 from Lloyd's of London and AIR Worldwide states that a cyber-incident that impacted the operations of one of the top three public cloud providers in the U.S. for three to six days could result in total losses of up to $19 billion.

Trevor Maynard, head of innovation at Lloyd's, said, “Cloud Down estimates losses for the top 15 cloud providers in the US, which account for a 70 percent market share.”

Public cloud providers suggest using multiple availability zones and geographic regions to help provide better resiliency against downtime.