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Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent

Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Welcome to dot.Rory - these are my thoughts about how technology is changing the world and shaping our lives

Tax and tech

Apple logo

Here are two indisputable truths. Governments love to cosy up to technology companies. And technology companies - much like any other business - hate paying tax. So the relationship between the two can be summed up as a Facebook status - it's complicated.

This morning we have learned the extraordinary lengths governments can go to in order to persuade a giant American company to do business in its territory. The European Commission has published a letter setting out the reasons for its investigation into a tax deal between Ireland and Apple.

We hear how an arrangement was reached in 1990 which saw Apple channelling much of its international revenue through Ireland. The way in which Ireland's government then calculated Apple's Irish profits looks to anyone who isn't an accountant like a case of holding your finger up in the air.

In a document submitted by the Irish government, a representative of Apple admits to the revenue that there is "no scientific basis" for one of the figures used in the calculations. "However," the document continues, "the figure was of such magnitude that he hoped it would be seen to be a bona-fide proposal."

Ireland did sign up to that deal, and another in 2007, and the result has been that the technology firm appears to have paid minimal tax as its profits soared following the introduction of the iPhone. The Commission's letter suggests that in 2012, when Apple's international revenues amounted to $64bn (£39.5bn), the company paid under 10m euros (£7.7m) in tax in Ireland.

Read full article Tax and tech

U2, Bendygate and iOS 8.0.1: Apple's banana skins

iPhone and iPhone 6 Plus

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in Apple's PR department over the last week. A company that is legendary for obsessive control over its message has watched helplessly as things have spun out of its grasp.

First, there was the kerfuffle over the stunt which saw U2's new album given away free to every iTunes user whether they wanted it or not. That provoked a wave of anger and derision from people who saw the provision of a free download as a massive assault on their freedom and an insult to their taste in music. (For U2, it was a massive success, earning them a reputed $100m from Apple and sending older albums back into the charts). Unusually, Apple felt obliged to respond by offering a U2 removal tool.

Read full article U2, Bendygate and iOS 8.0.1: Apple's banana skins

Blackberry's Passport to a better future

It is the company that first brought us email on the move, and seemed to be in prime position to prosper in the smartphone era.

Then it all went wrong for Blackberry. But today sees the launch of a device which the Canadian company believes could win back the executives once addicted to their Crackberries.

Read full article Blackberry's Passport to a better future

Cracking the problem of online identification

Drawing of computer on blackboard with words "who are you?" on monitor

How do you go about proving you are who you say you are?

As more and more services move online - and fraud mounts - this is of growing importance not just to individuals but to the businesses and governments with which they interact. In many countries, the answer is an identity card, but that idea has met with lots of resistance in the UK.

Read full article Cracking the problem of online identification

Who has won the social referendum?

Facebook picture
Facebook is introducing a function allowing Scots to show they have voted

It was the 2008 Obama presidential campaign that first showed how politicians could use social media as a campaigning tool. Now the Scottish referendum could prove another landmark in the influence of the likes of Facebook and Twitter on debate.

Millions on both sides have taken to tweeting and Facebooking their views on the issues. But never mind who wins the referendum - who has come out on top in the social media battle?

Read full article Who has won the social referendum?

Why the exodus of British tech talent is unlikely to stop

Silicon Valley

Where is the British Mark Zuckerberg? That is the now rather tired question politicians and policy makers keep asking as they work out how to inspire young British entrepreneurs to create world-beating companies.

The answer is that they are probably in Silicon Valley - and I met one candidate this week, the man behind one of the most successful Kickstarter hardware projects yet seen.

Read full article Why the exodus of British tech talent is unlikely to stop

Apple's Watch - what's it for?

Apple Watch

Finally, four years after the iPad, and after endless rumours about the reinvention of television and other industries, Apple has launched a brand new product in the Watch. It is a long way from being the first in its field, but as with the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod, could it redefine the category and send huge new waves of cash to Cupertino?

I'm sceptical - not about Apple dominating the smartwatch market but whether it's ever going to be that valuable a business. Yes, by next spring the Watch will almost certainly be the market leader. By announcing it in September and not delivering until 2015, Apple has ensured that consumers will look at rival products over the next few months and think it is worth waiting for something better.

Read full article Apple's Watch - what's it for?

Apple - follow the mobile money

Apple's Tim Cook

On Tuesday in Cupertino, Apple's Tim Cook may finally step out of the shadow left by Steve Jobs. In what is being billed as the company's most important announcement for years, the understated chief executive will unveil the iPhone 6, and the "new category" that he has been promising all year, some kind of wearable connected device.

This will be touted by Cook and his team as evidence that the sceptics who said Apple could no longer innovate after Jobs were absurdly misguided

Read full article Apple - follow the mobile money

A cloud of uncertainty

Jennifer Lawrence

Two days after stolen celebrity photos started leaking onto the 4Chan website, one thing is clear. And that is that virtually nothing is clear.

Despite all the speculation about Apple's iCloud or other cloud services being hacked, there is still no evidence about exactly how the photos were obtained.

Read full article A cloud of uncertainty

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About Rory

Rory has been watching the technology scene like a hawk for the last 15 years.

From the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s to the rise of Google and Facebook, from the Psion organiser to the iPad, he's covered all the big gadget and business stories, and interviewed just about everyone who's played a part in the story of the web.

Dot.Rory, his previous blog, was named among the Top 100 blogs by the Sunday Times.

He aims to look at the impact of the internet and digital technology on our lives and businesses. Rory has been described as "the non-geek's geek", and freely admits that he came late to technology - but he aims to explain its significance to anyone with an interest in the subject.

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