It’s time to conclude our look back at some of the news stories we’ve covered here at GaS in 2016 as well as following up on later developments. In September a collection of Steve Jobs’s possessions went on sale. Highlights included a leather jacket worn in a famed picture of Jobs flipping off an IBM sign in 1983, which went for $22,400; a batch of documents from Jobs’s house, which sold for $2,880; and a set of keys and a video tape labelled “Estate Survey 7/86” for which one curious buyer paid $2,240.
The makers of a small cube designed to keep fidgeters focused raised $6,465,690 on Kickstarter, putting it in the top ten best-funded projects ever on the site. Each face on Fidget Cube contains a different distraction from combination lock-style gears to clickable buttons. The first batch are shipping this month, though some backers have expressed disappointment in not receiving them for Christmas.
California passed a state law that means if somebody pays to be listed on the site of a “commercial online entertainment employment service provider” they can demand the site not list their date of birth or age. IMDB – the site which was most likely the main target of the law after complaints by actors of age discrimination by producers – is now suing the state claiming the law violates the first amendment.
In October Apple and Samsung’s epic patent battle hit the Supreme Court to review a previous judgment awarding $548 million in damages to Samsung for violating a design patent for the iPhone. The figure was based on a legal principle that if a company violates a design (rather than technology) patent, damages can be based on their entire profits from the relevant product. The Justices agreed with Samsung’s argument that if the design patent only affects part of the product, courts should be able to award proportional damages. The ruling didn’t set down guidelines for when and how that should happen, so a lower court will need to recalculate the damages figure in this case.
In November, Apple was estimated to be making 103.6 percent of all profits in the smartphone market. The odd-looking statistic came about because the rest of the industry as a whole lost money over the course of a quarter. That was largely a result of Samsung’s profits almost completely disappearing for the period thanks to the disaster of having to recall the flagship Note 7, which proved too hot to handle.
In December Amazon announced trials of an automated grocery store where a combination of an app and RFID chips meant customers could simply fill their bags and walk out the front door without having to go through a checkout process. French chain Monoprix later parodied Amazon’s promotional video almost shot for shot.