Sunday, February 17, 2008
  The Apple Core Blog - Google; AT&T shocked by iPhone usage
Well those people at Google and AT&T are pretty dumb then. There's a reason that there were way more US consumers on the internet than in Europe back in the old dialup days. US consumers typically paid a flat rate for internet access (both phone & ISP) while in Europe, consumers were charged per minute for phone use.

AppleInsider reports that Google has seen 50 times more search requests coming from Apple iPhones than any other mobile handset. They were so shocked, in fact, that they suspected that they had made an error tabulating their data.

In related news René Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG, says iPhone is driving up average wireless data usage as much as 30 times higher than on other phones. The average Internet usage for an iPhone customer is more than 100 MBytes. Which is 30 times the use for their average contract-based consumer.

Saturday, February 02, 2008
  NYTimes - Massachusetts Accuses Merrill of Fraud
William Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of state, filed a civil fraud complaint against Merrill a day after the firm took the unusual step of agreeing to reimburse Springfield for losses on the investments. Merrill agreed to buy back the securities at their original value, $13.9 million, after determining that its brokers had not been authorized by Springfield to buy the securities on the city’s behalf.

According to the suit, Manuel Choy and Carl J. Kipper, two Merrill brokers hired by the Springfield Finance Control Board, were told to pick “instruments that yielded more than Merrill’s money market account as long as the products were triple-A rated by the major credit-rating agencies.”

The pair invested about $14 million of the city’s newfound budget surplus into three so-called collateralized debt obligations — pools of debt securities that were backed by residential mortgage-backed securities and commercial-backed securities (which in turn are pools of residential and commercial mortgage loans). Some of the debt obligations were backed by other debt obligations and synthetic securities, securities backed by derivatives, the suit says.

Last summer, when the market for collateralized debt obligations backed by subprime markets seized up, the value of Springfield’s securities plummeted. For example, Mr. Choy and Mr. Kipper invested $12.6 million in April 2007 into the “Centre Square C.D.O.” By August that C.D.O. had a value of 84 percent of its purchase price; by September it was down to 50; in October, 30 percent, and by December, only 5 percent. When the city asked that Merrill sell the securities, Merrill said there were no buyers.

After the city complained to Merrill about the products, James Mann, the firm’s general counsel, responded in a letter, “While Merrill Lynch is disappointed with the unfortunate disappearance off liquidity in the residential mortgage-backed C.D.O. markets, Merrill Lynch has no legal responsibility to the city concerning the financial performance of this investment.”

Mr. Mann wrote that Springfield was responsible for making the investments, saying, “The city made its own investment decisions.”

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