Apple Pay Could Launch in Germany as Early as Next Month

Hints about when Apple Pay is coming to Germany have been few and far between over the last year, with negotiations between Apple and German banks allegedly stalling due to conflicting views over fees and controls.

The last rumor came back in May and suggested that Apple Pay would launch in the country in the fall or winter, but today one MacRumors reader provided us with another potential hint that Apple is gearing up to introduce its mobile payment system in Germany imminently.


While setting up a new Apple Watch on the fifth regional betas of iOS 11 and watchOS 4, developer Philipp Ebener was presented with the option to add German bank cards to Apple Pay for the first time.

Philipp reports that he wasn't able to register any of his German credit cards with the system, but the fact that the feature has been partially enabled suggests full activation could come with the official public launch of both operating systems.

Apple will release the final version of iOS 11 and watchOS 4 at its next major event in September, where it is expected to debut new iPhone models and a new Apple Watch with LTE for a standalone cellular connection.


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France and Germany Prepare Crackdown on Tax Loopholes With Tech Companies Like Apple in Sights

France and Germany are looking to stop tech companies like Apple from exploiting tax loopholes in their respective countries. The loopholes are said to have allowed Apple to "minimize taxes and grab market share" at the expense of Europe-based companies.

France will draft and propose a list of "simpler rules" that will be aimed at creating a "real taxation" law for non-European companies, which also include Amazon and Facebook (via Bloomberg).

The new rules will be looked at in September during a meeting of European Union officials, which French finance minister Bruno Le Maire hopes will help speed up Europe-wide initiatives related to properly taxing international companies. Germany is said to be looking into similar proposals following its national election on September 24.

French President Emmanuel Macron is one of the leaders behind the tax crackdown on international tech companies, with a goal of bringing a more unified corporate tax system across the nineteen euro area states.
The clampdown on tech firms is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s muscular approach to ensuring a level playing field, after seeing first hand during his election campaign how French firms struggle to compete with countries where taxes and social security payments are lower.

“Europe must learn to defend its economic interest much more firmly -- China does it, the U.S. does it,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said. “You cannot take the benefit of doing business in France or in Europe without paying the taxes that other companies -- French or European companies -- are paying.”
In similar news, last year the European Commission ruled that Apple received illegal state aid from Ireland and ordered the company to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes. Apple admitted that it expects the case to continue for several years, and eventually appealed the decision in December of 2016 by arguing the European Commission made "fundamental errors" in its ruling.

If the new crackdown on tax loopholes goes into effect, Apple could potentially face more tax avoidance charges, which company CEO Tim Cook called "total political crap" in the wake of the Ireland-related ruling. In an open letter around the same time, Cook said that Apple has become "the largest taxpayer in the world," stating that the company "follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe." He called the European Commission's ruling an "effort to rewrite Apple's history in Europe," and said that any claim that Ireland gave Apple a "special deal" on taxes "has no basis in fact or in law."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: France, Germany, tax

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Pay-to-View ‘Amazon Channels’ Come to Prime Members in the U.K. and Germany

Amazon expanded its selection of pay-to-view television channels to the United Kingdom and Germany markets today. The announcement means users of Prime Video in those countries will be able to subscribe to popular channels individually, rather than having to pay for bundles of channels.

Previously, Amazon's on-demand Prime Video subscription service only offered movies and TV shows in the U.K. and Germany, which are two of the company's biggest European markets.

"For the first time, Prime members in the UK and Germany will be able to choose to watch premium TV channels without having to sign up to a bundle or a contract, giving them the freedom to pay for only what they want to watch," said Alex Green, head of Amazon Channels in Europe.

"From live sport to Bollywood, arthouse cinema to reality TV, and award-winning TV shows from popular channels like Discovery and ITV, Amazon Channels gives power back to customers to choose exactly what they want to watch."
However, one analyst who spoke to the BBC said Amazon would struggle to attract satellite customers in the U.K., calling the list of channels – which includes the likes of Eurosport and Discovery – "not immediately desirable".
"Amazon launched a similar thing in the U.S., and the big selling point was that you could get HBO and Showtime programs all under one umbrella," said Tom Harrington, an analyst at Enders.

"That's not going to happen here. Sky have HBO and Showtime locked down, at least for now, and will hold on to them aggressively. When you look at what's available in the U.K., it does lack the wow factor."
Close to 50 on-demand "Amazon Channels" will be available through Prime Video via a single click. Prices of the various channels in the U.K. vary between £1.49 and £9.49 a month, but are only available to Amazon Prime members.

Most of the content will also be available to download for offline, on-demand viewing, with free trials being offered for the majority of subscriptions. Amazon also said additional subscriptions would be added in the coming months. The full list of available channels can be found here.


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Apple Pay Negotiations Still Ongoing in Germany as Hints of Pending Italian Launch Increase

Apple is "working rapidly" to expand Apple Pay to additional countries in Asia and Europe, and there's increasing evidence and reports that suggest the service may launch in Italy and Germany in the near future.


Apple recently updated its Apple Pay participating banks and card issuers in Asia-Pacific support document with a new image of Europe that has Italy highlighted. The change isn't visible on the United States or Europe versions of the page, suggesting that it may have been added to the Asia-Pacific page prematurely.


MacRumors discovered a colored version of the image stored on Apple's servers that makes it easier to see Italy highlighted.


Apple's regional Italian website has listed Apple Pay as "coming soon" since March, so it's only a matter of time—WWDC?—before the payments service launches in the country. At launch, Apple Pay will work with Visa and MasterCard in Italy through participating banks UniCredit, Boon, and Carrefour Banca.

Meanwhile, German blog iPhone-Ticker reports that Apple Pay should launch in Germany in the fall or winter. As in some other countries, however, the negotiations between Apple and German banks allegedly continue to be challenging, likely as both sides struggle to reach an agreement over fees and control.

Last October, Germany was similarly highlighted on the Apple Pay availability map, but only for a brief period of time.


Apple Pay launched in the United States in October 2014, and it has since expanded to 14 other countries and regions: Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. There was also a rumor that Belgium could be added this month.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Italy, Germany

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Apple Close to Opening Long-Rumored Store in Cologne, Germany

For a few years now, rumors have suggested Apple will be opening its second retail store in Cologne, Germany. The store is expected to be located on Schildergasse, a major shopping street in the city's core that sees some 13,000 people pass through every hour, making it the busiest shopping street in Europe.

schildergasse
In April 2015, German website Macerkopf shared images of a building with blacked out windows on Schildergasse. The space was previously occupied by European clothing brand Pohland, which vacated the building earlier that year. Renovations have been underway ever since to transform the location into an Apple Store.

The renovation process had led to evidence including Apple's typical blacked out windows and close-up photos revealing Apple-like tables and markings inside. Apple also posted Cologne-based retail job listings in March 2016. And, now, we have our best evidence yet that Apple's second store in Cologne is nearly ready.

apple-logo-schildergasse
German website iFun.de today shared an image of a somewhat covered but still easily distinguishable Apple logo affixed to the building. The report claims the store will likely open in the second half of February. Apple will likely confirm the store's opening on its website in the near future—we'll share details when available.

Last week, French website iPhon.fr reported Apple is also planning to open a second retail store in Belgium in the city of Bruges by 2018.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
Tag: Germany

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Apple Reportedly Tried to Buy Stuttgart’s Wartime Bunkers to Convert into an Iconic Retail Store

Apple has reportedly offered a three-digit million amount to acquire an underground bunker in Stuttgart that it wanted to convert into a retail outlet similar to its iconic New York 5th Avenue Store.

The city of Stuttgart is still without an Apple Store, with the nearest one in Sindelfingen about 12 miles away. Apple has reportedly been searching for a suitable retail home in the city for some time, having rejected various locations in recent years, including a planned move into the Milaneo shopping mall which the company is said to have pulled out of at the last minute.

marktplatz_stuttgart-nr
According to German tech site ifun.de, Apple's search for a home in the state capital even led to the company offering a "three-digit million amount" for a series of wartime bunker rooms under the Stuttgarter Market Square in the center of the city.

After the Second World War, the bunker system in question was used as a 100-bed hotel from 1945 to 1985. The Bunker Hotel had ventilation shafts instead of windows, and the rooms still exist to this day, but are reportedly dilapidated.

An architectural competition to make the bunker a public exhibit was announced in 1995 and the winning design by Neugebauer + Roesch Architect was a 31 meter-long and 14 meter-high glass prism as an entrance pavilion to underground stores, but the design was never realized because of lack of interest from the city administration.

The original architectural proposals fit Apple's portfolio of underground store, which typically involve a recognizable glass construction entrance leading to retail rooms below, as seen at the company's flagship 5th Avenue store in New York. However, the city administration are said to be reluctant to have an Apple logo-emblazoned edifice directly opposite the Stuttgart City Hall and have so far rejected Apple's large offer of money to acquire the location.

At least for now, Apple's search for a retail home in the the state capital of Baden-Württemberg appears set to continue.

Tag: Germany

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This clever pilot used flight radar to spell out a friendly message

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LONDON — This airplane pilot puts your dirty car windshield messages to shame.

Flightradar24 — a service that allows users to track flight patterns all around the world — tweeted a delightful playback that reveals a particularly creative use of flight radar. 

The pilot used his private aircraft and approximately 40 minutes of his time to trace a friendly message from the skies, which you can watch below:

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