This week, Apple's Qualcomm battle took a rather interesting turn, when a host of the company's competitors, including Google and Samsung, announced that they back the iPhone maker in its chip battle. Meanwhile, Apple made an important change to the way customer support representatives handle App Store reviews, and the company has brought on a new leader for its China operations.
Oh, and there's a Steve Jobs opera in the works, and a person was caught with 102 iPhones strapped to her body, trying to smuggle them into China.
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Read on for the big—and quirky—Apple news from this week:
- Apple has friends. Lots of friends. That was the takeaway this week, after a host of companies, including Microsoft (msft), Amazon (amzn), Google (googl), and Samsung (ssnlf), all said that they back Apple in its fight against Qualcomm. The group said the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) should reject Qualcomm's request to block iPhones from being imported into the country on the grounds of Apple allegedly violating a handful of Qualcomm (qcom) patents. The group said in a statement that Qualcomm has "monopoly power" and banning iPhones would "drive up prices on consumer devices." The ITC didn't formally respond to the plea.
- In a rather surprising move, Apple this week launched a new website that highlights the company's artificial intelligence projects. The site, called the Apple Machine Learning Journal, will allow readers to see what the company's engineers are doing to advance artificial intelligence through machine and deep learning.
- Apple (aapl) has appointed Isabel Ge Mahe, its vice president of wireless technologies, to the new post of managing director of Greater China. In her new role, Mahe will lead Apple's China efforts and look to expand its market share and influence across the critical country. It won't be easy: Apple's revenue in China has plummeted over the last several quarters, and there are no signs yet of it turning around.
- The iPhone maker has added a new Customer Support role that will allow developer support professionals to respond to reviews left on their App Store programs. Apple started allowing app developers to respond to customer reviews in March. The new role means developers can assign certain people to respond to reviews, offer technical support, explain features, and more, Apple said.
- A Florida man agreed this week to pay more than $278,000 in damages to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) insider trading accusations. According to the SEC complaint, the man obtained nonpublic information about Apple's decision to buy his employer, AuthenTech, and bought call options to make a quick buck. The sum includes more than $135,000 in trading profit, plus interest. He's also been slapped with a nearly $136,000 fine.
- Chinese customs officials this week detained a woman who was found to have 102 iPhones strapped to her body. The woman, who was also wearing 15 luxury watches, had four layers of iPhones strapped to her torso and waist, according to local media reports. She had more than 42 pounds of goods on her when she was discovered.
One more thing...If you're looking for a different way to learn about Steve Jobs' life, rejoice! The Santa Fe Opera Company in New Mexico will premiere The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs this weekend. The libretto will examine the personal and professional lives of Apple's late co-founder.