The tech business week: New EU VAT rules, Apple beats antitrust lawsuit

22 Dec 2014

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week, beginning with the news EU VAT rules that will affect digital services providers will arise on 1 January.

EU VAT rules for B2C tech firms and telcos to hit on 1 January

New EU VAT rules that will affect providers of digital services, such as telecoms, software and streaming, will arise on 1 January to simplify online processing of VAT returns based on consumer transactions in Europe.

In a scheme known as the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) that is being jointly promoted by IDA Ireland and the Irish Revenue Commissioners, tech firms will be able to submit VAT returns online in one country rather than across a multitude of countries.

The aim of the new MOSS structure is to simplify how suppliers of digital services across Europe meet their tax obligations.

Apple defeats US$1bn antitrust lawsuit over iPod music

Consumer tech giant Apple has won the legal case brought against it by makers of MP3 players, avoiding as much as US$1bn in fines.

The lawsuit that had been rumbling on for nearly a decade had arisen after a group of companies that produced MP3 players claimed Apple subverted the music-player industry by forcing users of the iTunes program, with its copyright software FairPlay, to only allow music to be listened through an Apple iPod.

By including the FairPlay software, Apple restricted users from sharing music they had purchased through iTunes with other MP3 players between 2006 and 2009 over fears it could encourage music piracy.

Xiaomi now one of top 5 smartphone makers in the world – Gartner

Chinese consumer electronics player Xiaomi for the first time has entered the top 5 of global smartphone makers worldwide, reported information technology research and advisory firm Gartner.

Xiaomi experienced the highest growth of the third quarter of 2014, with an increase of 336pc driven by strong performance in China, where it became market leader. In the quarter, three of the top 5 smartphone vendors were Chinese. Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo grew their collective market share by 4.1 percentage points.

Apple’s and Samsung’s combined smartphone share totalled 37pc in the third quarter of 2014, down 7 percentage points from the same period last year.

Worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users were flat in the third quarter of 2014, according to Gartner. However, sales of smartphones to end users grew 20.3pc to reach 301m units.

Samsung may launch Apple Pay rival

Consumer electronics giant Samsung appears to be putting deals in place with a mobile payments start-up to launch a rival system to Apple Pay sometime in 2015.

Much like Apple Pay, which was launched in the US earlier this year, the mobile payments system would allow Samsung phone owners with the software to pay for items through the phone’s NFC tag, using credit-card information stored on the device.

According to Re/code, sources within Samsung have suggested the start-up LoopPay, which offers a contactless payment service, will be providing the software behind the Samsung system.

Google fine in the offing as Dutch set ultimatum

The Dutch Privacy Authority (DPA) has demanded a change to internet search giant Google’s privacy policy.

This all stems from a 2013 investigation by Dutch authorities, which found Google broke state laws by sharing personal data across its suite of services. Basically, information from its search engine was used, along with data acquired through location services, for example.

According to PCWorld, Google recently sent a letter to authorities in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and the Netherlands, announcing a number of measures to comply with EU privacy laws. The Dutch DPA “has not yet established whether the proposed measures will end all the violations,” it said.

A Google spokesman said the company is disappointed with the DPA’s order, “especially as we have already made a number of changes to our privacy policy in response to their concerns”. Google will soon discuss the proposals with the European privacy authorities, the spokesman added.

Amazon to push stockroom staff to new limits with one-hour delivery

E-commerce giant Amazon is now going to offer residents of New York City, who are Amazon Prime members, the chance to receive their orders in just one hour.

Launched under the title Amazon Prime Now, the service has the high street firmly in its sight. By accessing the service through the company’s new Prime Now app, users can select the one-hour service for many products that would be available in a supermarket, including paper towels, shampoo, books and toys.

So far restricted to certain areas within Manhattan in the bustling metropolis that is New York City, with delivery times starting from 6am, consumers could get their eggs and bacon by 7am.

However, if customers want their order within an hour, they better make it count – the cost for delivery is US$7.99.

VAT image via Shutterstock

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