Thursday, March 21, 2013

Morning Brief: Cyprus looks for a bailout from Russia; Apple updates iOS version of GarageBand; Murdoch uses Twitter to blast proposed new press regulations

The Cypriot finance minister remains in Russia, hoping to secure billions of euros of investment so that the nation does not have to impose its levy on depositors, a move that was rejected by the parliament earlier this week.

"The banks are the ultimate objective in any support we get," Finance Minister Michael Sarris told Reuters. "There are no stumbling issues - there is just work to be done."

Meanwhile, lines have formed at ATMs throughout the capital of Nicosia, with banks remaining closed until sometime next week. In essence, what we are seeing is a slow run on the banks, especially the hardest hit bank, Laiki Bank. Their English language website contains the following message to its customers: " Following the announcements of the Ministry of Finance, the 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd of March 2013 have been declared a Bank holiday. During this period, no banking transactions will be carried out, including electronic transactions. ATM withdrawals will continue to be allowed, as wekk as card purchases with credit and debit cards."

The European Central Bank has given Cyprus until Monday to find a solution, agreeing to continue to supply emergency funds for now, but stating that it would pull plug if no deal is reached. The question I keep asking is what will it take for Cypriots, or Greeks, in general, to finally understand that staying in the Euro means making a deal with entities that are not working in your interests.

Apple's app review seems to be back at work, with a slew of updates issued late yesterday. One of the more interesting one is also one that I think Apple's software team should pay attention to.

Apple updated the iOS version of GarageBand and added the ability of the app to work with apps supported by Audiobus. The update was met with cheers, but also a lot of concern from users that Apple appears to be falling behind. User reviews, while appreciative of the Audiobus update, have been giving the app only mixed reviews.

The main complaint is that while getting material into GarageBank is pretty easy, getting it out is more difficult.

Meanwhile, Apple users continue to hope for a complete rewrite of iTunes, which remains an embarrassing mess (and don't get me started with the iTunes App Store).

Rupert Murdoch is having a difficult time finding allies in the U.K. government in order to beat back efforts to stiffen press regulations in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. It doesn't help that his editors keep getting accused of illegal activities, with the latest being his deputy editor at The Sun being accused of illegal payments of public officials. Murdoch used Twitter to call the situation a "holy mess."

Murdoch is finding more support for his views in the press. While The Guardian and a few other papers have said they would accept press regulations backed by legislation, most of the British press wants things as they are, with only voluntary guidelines put in place.

The latest publisher to come out against the proposed regulations is the New Statesman which wrote "Our newspapers have often been crass and vulgar and they have committed many wrongs. But they are a reflection of British society, for better and worse." (It's hard to argue with that.)

One of the magazine's concerns is that the definition of publisher is too broad: "The definition of “publisher” covered by the new regulator was set out as not just either a newspaper or a political and cultural magazine, such as the New Statesman, but also “a website containing news-related material”. This threatened to drag in personal blogs and social media accounts; in effect, it would try to “regulate the internet”, a completely impossible task, and one not covered by Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry or recommendations."