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Code/red: Apple Releases iPhone Killer

Plus, a gray market iPhone 6 price check, Google tweaks News Corp. and an outpouring of support for the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal.


This iOS 8 Release Contains Improvements and Bug Fixes Including: BREAK PHONE

What started out as a banner week for Apple devolved into a nightmarish one on Wednesday when iOS 8.0.1, the first point release update to the latest version of the company’s mobile OS, crippled some of the iPhones on which it was installed, disabling cell service and TouchID authentication. In a matter of hours, Apple, which just days earlier had been crowing over record first weekend iPhone sales, was apologizing for an embarrassing misstep that was commanding just as much media attention. And unlike reports of the iPhone 6 Plus bending under pressure, the company couldn’t simply decline comment on the issue. The ability to make a phone call from an iPhone isn’t some legacy feature, it’s a core functionality. That Apple was unaware that the first update to iOS 8 would disable that functionality and require users to reinstall an earlier version of the OS to restore it is, frankly, astonishing. Note that Apple says it is “working around the clock to prepare iOS 8.0.2 with a fix for the issue.” In other words, iOS 8.0.1 wasn’t a minor mistake quickly fixed, it was a glaring oversight that can only be repaired by significant engineering resources. That it ever made it through Q/A and into public release is a clear, indisputable failure.

Okay, You Copywriters Take a Couple Days Off and Somebody Send a Thank-You Bouquet to Cupertino

Business Insider Editor Steve Kovach on Apple’s iOS 8.0.1 cockup: “This is going to make a great Samsung commercial.”

Not So Much a Skunkworks as a Rathole

Amazon is dumping a bunch of money into Lab126, the secretive hardware unit responsible for rarely-seen-in-the-wild consumer electronics successes like the Fire Phone. According to a document seen by Reuters, Amazon will invest $55 million into Lab126’s Silicon Valley operations and increase its staff by about 27 percent over the next five years.

Fanny Pack or Mom Jeans, Problem Solved

Nick Bilton, the New York Times: “It’s the ultimate first world problem. You go to the Apple store, drop $400 for an iPhone 6 and then discover it doesn’t fit in your pocket.”

But When You Factor in the Recalls …

There are lots of folks getting carried away with Tesla’s stock, but former General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz isn’t one of them. Like Tesla founder Elon Musk, he too feels the company’s share price is a bit more than it deserves. “Elon Musk is right,” Lutz told CNBC. “Tesla is grossly overvalued right now. When you look at it, their total production to date is still less than one day’s production of General Motors or Ford, so it’s filled with a lot of hype.”

iPhone Gray Market Blues

The delayed release of Apple’s new iPhone 6 line in China spiked gray market prices to nearly $1,500 over the weekend. But an influx of devices from Hong Kong and overseas has since created a glut and driven prices down below $1000, much to the chagrin of gray-market vendors. “If you have stocked the [iPhone 6], you are losing money,” one electronics shop clerk told the South China Morning Post. “The prices are dropping way too fast. Some sellers lost money while their phones were on the plane [to Beijing].”

Shellshock Security Flaw Allows for Advanced Hyperbole Execution

Remember Heartbleed, the catastrophic OpenSSL vulnerability of which security researcher Bruce Schneier said, “On the scale of one to 10, this is an 11”? Well, evidently a new vulnerability called Shellshock is even worse.

Point/Counterpoint: Google Is a Pox on Informed Public Discourse vs. Whatever, Rupert Murdoch

News Corp. on Google: “Undermining the basic business model of professional content creators will lead to a less informed, more vexatious level of dialogue in our society … the intemperate trends we are already seeing in much of Europe will proliferate.”

Google on News Corp.: “People probably have enough evidence to judge that one for themselves :)”

I See a Red Tweet and I Want to Paint It Black

Ariane Fairlie, Beautiful Decay: “Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvoll set up a paint sculpture that tracks the moods of people in Oslo (where they go to school) through their posts to social media. Each time someone tweets that they are happy, sad, angry, or what have you, a program that Lauritzsen and Murvoll created assigns a color to it.”

Comcast Thanks You for Your Unspoken Support

Guess who thinks a Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal won’t create a communications gatekeeper with the size and disposition of the Cloverfield Creature? You! Unless you explicitly and formally complained to the Federal Communications Commission that Comcast’s proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable will do just that. And if you did formally complain? Well, then you’re probably just some dope who spends your days walking down JFK Boulevard with a “big is bad” sandwich board, willfully ignoring the innovation, investment and competition that this public-spirited company has so generously fostered. That’s the thinking over at Comcast, anyway. To wit, this wonderful blog post from Comcast* Executive VP David Cohen that posits that pretty much anyone who submitted comments to the FCC about the merger favors it — whether they know it or not. “Virtually all commenters recognize and concede — either explicitly or through their silence — that the transaction will deliver substantial consumer welfare and public interest benefits to residential and business customers and in the advertising marketplace,” Cohen wrote. “The opposing commenters don’t cite any credible, specific facts that refute the extensive evidence of these transaction-specific benefits.”

*Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is a minority investor in Revere Digital, Re/code‘s parent company.

Poor Larry Ellison Getting 750,000 Fewer Oracle Stock Options Next Year

Larry Ellison’s title change will be accompanied by a hefty cut in compensation — not that it matters given the Oracle founder’s Smaugian wealth. By stepping down as CEO, Ellison is forfeiting some 750,000 stock options he would have otherwise been granted, according to new documents filed with the SEC. As executive chairman of the board and Oracle’s CTO, Ellison is entitled to a fiscal 2015 option grant of just 2.25 million shares. Piddling. But not to worry, Ellison remains Oracle’s largest shareholder with a 25 percent stake in the company. Also: He owns about 98 percent of the island of Lanai.

Only if We Don’t Have to Buy One First

BlackBerry CEO John Chen: “I would challenge you guys to bend our Passport.”

Off Topic

♫ To The Team Behind iOS 8.0.1 ♫ and video of the deepest pool in the world.

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments and KFC drumstick iPhone cases to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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