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Fluroride What It Does For Your Teeth
How It Really Helps

How Does FLUORIDE Strengthen Your Teeth?


When it reaches your teeth, fluoride is absorbed into the enamel. It helps to repair the enamel by replenishing the lost calcium and phosphorous to keep your teeth hard. This process is caused remineralization.

When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited into the tooth enamel help strengthen your teeth and prevent dissolution during the next demineralization phase. Thus, fluoride helps stop the decay process and prevent tooth decay.



5 Things You Must Know Before Purchasing Dental Equipments
By Jeff Carter DDS

5 things you must know before purchasing clinical dental equipment
by Jeff Carter, DDS

Many motivators provide the impetus for doctors to consider the purchase of new clinical dental equipment. My perception at times is that accountants are the final arbiters in determining when doctors will make a significant equipment purchase. Recent federal tax credits and advantageous depreciation schedules have encouraged many doctors to participate in late-December purchasing frenzies. These panic-driven purchases often result in acquisition of equipment that remains “in the box” for months, if not years. Trendy technology items are very popular late-December impulse purchases. Many doctors have purchased CCD intraoral digital X-ray sensors or phosphor-plate scanning systems - which were ultimately delivered to facilities with two front-desk computers on Windows 98 and a consult room tube-TV - with a built-in VCR.

What can you do to avoid purchasing missteps and untimely investments? Consider the following five guidelines and develop a purchasing plan and schedule based on your current needs and future growth and development goals.

1. The three-month rule

Tax implications of equipment purchases are significant and should be factored into the decision-making process in a timely manner. Meet with your accountant midyear to track your practice income and estimate end-of-year tax implications. Allow three months to research, view demonstrations from viable vendors, and review pricing quotes before making major equipment purchases of more than $20,000.

The actual time spent before the decision to purchase or not purchase may total only three or four hours, but it is unfeasible to organize research materials, schedule vendor demonstrations, visit trade show exhibits, and review pricing quotes in a week or two. In addition, you may need time to upgrade existing systems in your current facility to utilize the newly purchased unit.

Types of equipment in the $20,000-plus category can include digital radiography systems, CAD-CAM milling units (CEREC by Sirona), panoramic X-ray units, cone-beam technology (iCAT), practice management and clinical management software, and hard-tissue lasers. Interestingly, these higher investment products can also be considered in the category of “high-tech” dental equipment. The complexity of options and utilization parameters of these products has evolved so far beyond the traditional equipment decisions dentists faced 10 or 15 years ago that it is staggering.

2. Investing in core dental function vs. trendy developments

Most last-second impulse purchases involve the latest gadget to create a “buzz” in the profession. Trendy products have a mixed record of success in long-term use and value. Investments in the “less-glamorous” category of core dental function can be a safe and wise investment in the future productivity of your facility. An easily understood analogy is how fathers and teenage sons maintain automobiles.

Sons invest the majority of their funds (and some of their parents’) in mag wheels and stereo systems that trigger seismic readings at the National Earthquake Center. Sons are unconcerned about the diminished supply of two-year-old oil semi-lubricating the internal moving parts of their engines. Fathers typically change engine oil and oil filters every 3,000 miles, periodically check to see if their tires have tread, and replace worn parts before they either explode or fall off the car at 80 mph.

Maintaining the core dental function of your facility begins with consistent and appropriate functional output from both the vacuum pump and air compressor. Fluctuating and low vacuum levels can prolong even the most basic procedures. Fluctuating air pressure can prolong and even compromise procedures due to inconsistent torque and bur speed.

▲ Consider this hypothetical scenario: Your accountant advises you in September (not on December 15) that it is financially advantageous to purchase new equipment this calendar year. The vacuum pump in your facility is 15 years old and uses a water-driven impeller to create suction. Your air compressor is only 10 years old and looks great, except the leaking oil occasionally mixes with the air/water syringe spray in your operatories during composite and bonding procedures.

You make the “safe” decision to invest approximately $5,000 in a new Air Techniques oil-less compressor that provides increased performance output and delivers uncontaminated compressed air to the operatories. Your second “safe” investment is approximately $6,000 in a RAMVAC Bulldog QT E-Series Combo 2 “dry” vacuum pump. In time, you discover the new “dry” vacuum pump reduces your facility’s water utility bill by $50 per month.

Currently, your staff uses a hand-held spray canister to lubricate and flush pneumatic handpieces. In addition to the nuisance of excess lubricant coating the sterilization area countertops, you sense that you are replacing handpieces more often than your study club buddies. Another investment in core dental function that can improve handpiece performance and longevity is a handpiece lubrication unit.

Two great purchase options are the A-dec Assistina and the KaVo QUATTROcare. You decide to invest approximately $2,300 in the KaVo unit, which has the capacity to service four handpieces at one time which is ideal for your busy practice.

At a trade show, you “test drive” an electric handpiece and are amazed at the torque and cutting speed it delivers. To supplement your pneumatics, you invest another $5,000 and purchase two KaVo electric handpieces.

In spite of the addition of a new vacuum pump and compressor, operatory No. 3 is your and the staff’s least favorite treatment room. It seems as though most of the problematic procedure outcomes occur in this operatory.

An examination of the 15-year-old delivery unit reveals multiple problems, including the unit’s capacity to maintain compressed air levels and appropriate water spray to high-speed handpieces. You invest approximately $4,900 in a Pelton and Crane Spirit 2000 Flexible Delivery Cart. This now becomes your favorite treatment room.

Now that you are focused on improving the core dental functioning of your office, you declare that dull burs are as detrimental to treatment delivery as low air pressure and faulty delivery units. You decide to invest $2,000 and bulk-purchase multiple burs in a special deal from Brasseler. Your accountant informs you that burs fall into the category of consumable materials and supplies and can be entirely expensed in the year purchased, regardless of the federal tax credit status of equipment.

In this scenario, total investment in core dental function equipment for the year is $23,200. Taken as a tax credit, the entire amount may be expensed in the year purchased, versus depreciating the amount over five to seven years.

While visiting your study club buddy’s office, she shows you the box containing her new, accountant-inspired purchase of a $21,000 phosphor plate scanning system. You admire how well the scanning unit is packaged in Styrofoam, which ensured undamaged delivery to the office - four months ago.

3. Equipment discounts and trade show specials

I have written about this topic several times and I am always surprised that most doctors remain unaware of the typical pricing structure and product distribution logistics for major pieces of dental equipment.

Manufacturers such as A-dec, Pelton and Crane, Air Techniques, and Sirona distribute their products through networks of resellers. Many manufacturers are very cautious about which resellers they approve to sell and service their products.

Resellers include companies such as Patterson, Sullivan-Schein, Benco, Burkhart, and many others. Doctors cannot purchase equipment directly from manufacturers in this distribution model.

Resellers are able to acquire equipment from the manufacturers at a reseller discount, and then “resell” the equipment to you at cost. Occasionally, the reseller cost to you is the established retail price set by the manufacturer. More frequently, the reseller cost to you represents a significant discount off the established retail price, typically in the range of 22 to 24 percent. For example, the Progeny Previa DC intraoral X-ray unit lists at retail for $5,285. A doctor purchasing this unit invests $4,016 - a 24 percent discount.

When reviewing an equipment proposal from a reseller, assume most equipment items will be priced in a range of 22 to 24 percent below retail. If you’re at a trade show and the “trade show special” is a piece of equipment discounted 20 percent off retail, then it may not be a good deal at all. If the “trade show special” discount is higher than 24 percent, you may have secured a good or even a great deal.

Retail pricing for most major dental equipment is known in the marketplace through various information sources. It would be unlikely for high-profile resellers to inflate the retail price in order to present a higher and seemingly more attractive discount option.

Great deals can occur when a manufacturer lowers the equipment cost to the resellers in an effort to reduce inventory and the reseller passes that savings to you, or resellers choose to reduce their “margin” and discount greater than 24 percent to make the purchase more attractive to you.

As confusing as the reselling/discounting business model may be to you, it is a legitimate marketing tool and commonly used in many other markets outside dentistry.

4. New facility equipment purchases and “free design”

There are 254 IKEA stores in 34 countries, including 34 locations in the United States. To quote their Web site, the IKEA business idea is to offer a wide range of home furnishings with good design and function at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them - and still have money left!

Walking along the meandering IKEA pathway, you tour model spaces displaying a myriad of home furnishings. At least once during each visit I’ve made to an IKEA store, I am startled by the seemingly low price of an item that appears well designed, highly functional, and really cool. On my last visit, I noticed a banner above an unbelievably low-priced sofa with a quote from the founder of IKEA. It read, “If you cannot put a price on something, it has no value.” To many, the quote could be interpreted as Draconian and that cannot possibly be the intent.

This concept can even be applied to your dental practice, as many of you offer to fix this or patch that for free, thinking the good deed will be returned to you through new referrals or whatever. The unfortunate reality is that whatever you provided for free is probably perceived by the patient as valueless or you would have charged for it. And you have devalued the procedure by tacitly declaring that it is of no value.

All of this seemingly unrelated background information brings us back to the most equipment-intensive purchasing event in your practice career - the designing, constructing, and equipping of a new facility. How many of you have been presented with this option during your quest for a new office? “If you purchase all your equipment through us, we will design your office for free.” If you believe the founder of IKEA, free design is of no value and, if it was, it would have a price attached. I have also written about this apparent design service contradiction many times and yet almost daily I encounter doctors who believe the design of their new facility should cost them $0.

In reality, “free design” is funded through reduced equipment discounts below the typical 22 to 24 percent range. With this option, you never know what you actually invested in design through your equipment purchases.

Dissatisfaction with the facility outcomes of “free designers” is muted by doctors’ perceptions that at least they did not have to pay for the service. Offerings of free office design declare that the design of your office is of no value. After working in the design world for many years, I disagree.

5. Re-read items 1 through 4


Lasik Eye Surgery A Complete Guide
By: Vance Thompson, MD

LASIK & Laser Eye Surgery:
A Complete Consumer Guide

Refractive surgery is the term used to describe surgical procedures that correct common vision problems (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia) to reduce your dependence on prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.

Currently, a laser procedure called LASIK (LAY-sik) is the most popular refractive surgery performed in the United States. But there are other types of refractive surgery — including other laser procedures and intraocular lens procedures — that might be an even better choice for you, depending on your needs.

The articles below will help you learn more about your surgical options so you can better discuss them with your eye doctor if you are interested in elective vision correction surgery.

Subjects of More Complete Guide:
LASIK Criteria for Success: How to know if LASIK is right for you.
How to Choose a LASIK Surgeon: Credentials to look for, questions to ask.
Which Laser Is Best? Read a review of all current LASIK lasers.
LASIK Eye Surgery Cost: See the latest prices for LASIK in the U.S.
How to Compare Laser Eye Surgery Prices: with 8 questions to ask your surgeon.
LASIK Financing: Learn how you can afford LASIK surgery.
LASIK Eye Surgery Results: Are you likely to see 20/20 after LASIK?
LASIK Surgery Risks and Complications — and how to avoid them.
Dry Eyes and LASIK: You may still be a candidate.
LASIK Enhancement: Do you need an additional surgery? Will you in the future?
Contact Lenses After LASIK: Why some people need them.

Contact Editor at TTimesworld for more Guide to selecting the best facility and more answers: editor@TTimesworld.com



Wisdom in Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Do it Early and Save Yourself the Unpleasant Hassle

What are Wisdom teeth?
Wisdom Teeth are the last set of molars that most people get. They are also called Third Molars. When properly aligned, they are beneficial, but they often require extraction because they cause problems.

What are the Problems caused by wisdom teeth?
Your jaw may not be large enough for them, they may become impacted and unable to break through your gums.
Your wisdom teeth may break partway through your gums, causing a flap of gum tissue to grow over them. Food and germs can get trapped under the flap and cause your gums to become red, swollen, and painful. These are signs of infection.
More serious problems can develop from impacted teeth, such as infection, damage to other teeth and bone, or a cyst.
One or more of your wisdom teeth may come in at an awkward angle, with the top of the tooth facing forward, backward or to either side.
Do I need to have my Wisdom Teeth removed?
To determine if you have wisdom teeth that need to be removed, our dentists at East Market Dental use Digital X-rays and 3D Scan to exactly find the location and orientation of these teeth in your jawbone. You can schedule a Consultation at our office where the Dentist can assess if your Wisdom Teeth require removal.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth seen on X-ray

What is a 3D Scan?
A 3D Scan is the most advanced technology used in Dental Offices these days. Only a very few Dental Offices have them but this scan can show the dentist how your wisdom teeth are located inside of your bone in 3D. It also tells them how difficult it would be to remove these teeth and potential dangers during the extraction of these teeth.
The Scan itself is totally painless. You will be positioned in front of the 3D Machine with your head positioned and the machine goes around your head in less than half a minute, not touching you at all.


Modular Towers Now on Tallest Buildings
Whare Architecural Meets Telecom

1 Modular hits the heights

Europe’s tallest modular tower, designed by HTA Design LLP, has seen its final module lowered into place in north London. The 29-storey structure is a student accommodation scheme developed by Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems. The development is being funded by GCP Student Living plc, a closed ended fund, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange and already owns a number.

Apex House in Wembley is made up of 679 modules and delivering over 580 rooms that will be ready for students to move into in September. The development will also include communal facilities, such as a cinema, and an outdoor courtyard.

The total build time was 12 months, with the modules being stacked up in just 13 weeks to the height of 90m. Apex House will be managed by Scape, a student housing operator, and was designed by architects HTA Design LLP. The building has a BREAAM rating of Excellent.

Prior to this project, Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems also held the title for the tallest modular tower in Europe with a 25-storey student accommodation scheme in Wolverhampton that was completed in 2009.

Apex House will be the fourth modular scheme that Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems have completed in Wembley with HTA Design LLP. There is Grand Felda House, another student accommodation scheme providing 802 beds, an onsite gym and swimming pool. Also, there is Olympic Way, a residential development providing 158 homes, Felda House providing over 450 student rooms, and the 237 room Novotel hotel.

Christy Hayes, chief executive officer at Tide Construction, said: “We are delighted that both the housing minister Gavin Barwell and London mayor Sadiq Khan have made off-site construction a priority in the capital to help ease the strain on London’s housing supply. Modular construction provides a much faster alternative to traditional construction without compromising on the quality of the building, or the versatility of the design. Modular produces 80% less waste, requires fewer onsite workers and provides certainty of cost and time.

Architectural landscape are increasingly merging their designs with IT functionality. Read more about this on Today's WorldArchitecturenews.com


Russian Women Squad
IT Invasion and New Generation Hackers

Irina Khoroshko, from Zelenograd near Moscow, had learned her times tables by the age of five.

Her precocious talent, encouraged by a maths-mad family and a favourite female teacher who transformed every lesson into one giant problem-solving game, led to a degree in mathematical economics at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.

"My lecturer instilled in me the power of numbers and calculation, how it gives you the ability to predict things; in that sense the subject always felt magical," she says.

Now Irina, 26, is a data scientist at Russian online lender, ID Finance, enjoying a lucrative career devising analytical models to determine loan eligibility.

And this isn't an unusual story in Russia. But it is in many other countries around the world.

Several studies confirm that all too often girls' early interest in Stem subjects - science, technology, engineering and maths - fizzles out and never recovers.

So relatively few women go on to choose engineering or technology as a career. Why?

A new study from Microsoft sheds some light.

Based on interviews with 11,500 girls and young women across Europe, it finds their interest in these subjects drops dramatically at 15, with gender stereotypes, few female role models, peer pressure and a lack of encouragement from parents and teachers largely to blame.

Not so in Russia.


Google To Delay Launch of TV Sets
Reuters

Google Inc has asked some manufacturers to delay the launch of TV sets based on the internet company's software, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people briefed on the company's plans.
Google sent out word to some hardware makers last week asking them not to announce additional products yet, saying the delay may allow the company to improve its software, the paper said.
However, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd will go ahead with its launch of Google TV products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, WSJ said.
Google did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
TVs with Google's software let viewers surf the Web directly from TV sets.
The initial Google TV devices are offered by Sony Corp and Logitech International SA.


Internet addiction driving South Koreans into realms of fantasy
Government caught between promoting gaming and restraining its use in world's most wired nation

As dusk descends on the Sinchon neighbourhood of Seoul, a wave of Saturday shoppers melts away, on cue, into restaurants and bars. But in a windowless room several floors above the throng, Ji Yu-tae is steeling himself for a very different night's entertainment.

His only companions are a bottle of vitamin drink, cigarettes and a monitor displaying a scene from Aion, one of South Korea's most popular online games. When the hunger pangs become irresistible, he will click a box in the corner of his PC screen and order instant noodles.

By Monday morning, after two days of almost non-stop gaming, Ji will make his way to work, pale and sleep-deprived, but content that he has progressed in the virtual world that has been his second home for the past two years.

Seated next to him among rows of screens at this PC bang, an internet cafe in the South Korean capital, are scores of fellow obsessives whose attachment to online gaming is fast becoming a problem in the world's most advanced internet society.

According to the government, about 2 million South Koreans – nearly one in 10 online users – are addicted to the internet. Many spend every waking moment immersed in role-playing games, in which players form alliances to guide their characters through mythical worlds, collecting extra powers and other items as they go.

"I've been playing this for about two years and won't stop until I get to the end," Ji, a 27-year-old mobile content developer, says as beads of sweat form on his brow. "In my line of work I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, so this is where I feel most comfortable." But he denies that his obsession could be turning into an addiction. "It's my way of relieving stress. I could drink or go to the cinema, but this is how I want to spend my spare time. I don't have a girlfriend, and I'm not likely to meet one here."

The government has responded to juvenile web addiction by spending millions of dollars on counselling centres and awareness classes for children. From September, gamers aged under 18 will be unable to access 19 popular online titles, such as Maple Story and Dragon Nest, from midnight to 8am. Those who play outside the curfew will find their characters growing weaker the longer they play.

Now, however, the government must reconcile its support for online activity with the emergence of an older generation of web addicts. While the number of teenage addicts has fallen from more than 1 million to 938,000 in the past two years, those in their 20s and 30s have risen to 975,000, with the unemployed and university students considered at greatest risk.

South Korea's status as the world's most wired nation gives them the technical wherewithal to fuel their addiction. The country boasts the fastest and most developed broadband network on the planet, and more than 90% of homes have high-speed internet connections.

There are almost 22,000 PC bangs – online havens where, for a small hourly fee, the real world gives way to a virtual one that some enter only to find they are unable to leave. They are the driving force behind a gaming industry worth an estimated £1.6bn and involving 30 million people.

The popularity of StarCraft, a military-sci-fi game, has given rise to an elite class of professional gamers who have been elevated to the status of national e-sports icons. The best are said to make up to $300,000 a year in televised contests watched online by tens of thousands of adoring fans.

The arrival later this month of a new version, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, is expected to generate the sort of hysteria usually reserved for a Hollywood blockbuster.

Eo Gee-jun, president of the Korea Computer Life Institute, says South Korea is simply going through the growing pains of becoming the world's first fully fledged information society. And the authorities, he adds, are reluctant to stifle the county's thriving online culture. "The government is in charge of promoting gaming, so although it has established regulations, there are no penalties if they are broken. The ministry of culture, tourism and sports has established regulations that game companies don't have to follow."

Attempts to wean adult gamers off their addiction have been frustrated by the arrival of a £790m illicit market in cyber-weapons, costumes and other items that can be traded online for real money. The gravity of the problem was underlined in May, when a man was sentenced to two years in prison after he and his wife allowed their three-month-old daughter to starve to death while they raised a virtual child, for up to half a day at a time, at a 24-hour internet cafe. The same month a court sentenced a 22-year-old to 20 years in prison for clubbing his mother to death after she complained about his online gaming habit, and earlier this year a 32-year-old man dropped dead after a gaming session that lasted five days.

"In South Korea it is easier for citizens to play online games than to invest in their offline personal relations through face-to-face conversations," said Dr Kim Tae-hoon, a psychiatrist. "People are becoming numb to human interaction."

In another Sinchon PC bang, Kim Dong-ju and his new girlfriend, Kim Saet-byul, are bonding against a backdrop of extreme virtual violence. When the 20-year-olds met a month ago Ms Kim had no interest in games; now, her fingers zip across the keys with the speed and accuracy of a seasoned pro.

She screeches and, only half playfully, thumps her boyfriend on the arm. He has let the side down in Sudden Attack, a game of military conquest that draws them into PC bangs for at least five hours at a time, several times a week.

Having blasted her way thorough a disused warehouse, Ms Kim pauses: "I never thought gaming would be this exciting. But to be honest, I am worried that I am a little too into it."

But her reticence is short-lived. "We've been here for about four hours," she says. "We'll call it a day when we want to eat … but I have no idea when that will be."


Wacom Simplifies Creation and Use of GIS Data within Esri's ArcGIS 10



Natural Pen-on-screen Input of DTU-2231 Streamlines Workflow and Enhances Collaboration


Vancouver, WA - July 12, 2010 - Wacom's DTU-2231 interactive pen display enhances the productivity and accessibility features of Esri's recently released ArcGIS 10. Previously, ArcGIS users have been able to take advantage of the speed and efficiency of heads-up digitizing, red-lining and review when using Wacom's pen display products. Now, when combined with the new Feature Templates within ArcGIS 10, Wacom's pen input technology greatly simplifies data creation and editing, helping to broaden access and use of geospatial data for key decision making.

As the first HD interactive pen display for the GIS industry, the DTU-2231's direct pen-on-screen capability perfectly complements ArcGIS 10 data creation, analysis and review capabilities. With the DTU-2231, users employ Wacom's patented battery-free pen to work, draw and navigate directly on the surface of the pen display's 21.5-inch HD LCD. By simulating the natural process of drawing and writing on paper, but with the added benefits of a completely digital workflow, users experience improved organizational efficiency due to faster and more comfortable control within the software application, streamlined data conversion processes and improved collaboration across the enterprise.

The introduction of sketch-based editing using Feature Templates in ArcGIS 10 further simplifies the data editing process. Users of GIS may now select the appropriate symbol from customizable on-screen feature templates and immediately begin drawing with the Wacom pen, creating features while ArcGIS 10 manages the properties and attributes in the geodatabase.

"The DTU-2231 truly brings the new capabilities of ArcGIS 10 Feature Templates to life," explains Mike Dana, business development manager at Wacom Technology. "Editing becomes intuitive as users are literally drawing with a pen. This simplifies editing for both trained and non-trained users of GIS, creating a modern approach to digital workflows."

The concept of sketch in data creation and editing is central to Geodesign. Wacom's pen displays allow a broad audience to rapidly create designs which can then be analyzed for suitability based on a variety of criteria. This democratization of geographic information helps ensure that this critical data can be incorporated into the design process.

"Sketching is the language of GeoDesign," says Jack Dangermond, Esri president. "Interactive displays like those from Wacom bring sketching capabilities to more GIS professionals and act as an enabling technology for GeoDesign."

Wacom is an Esri Authorized Business Partner. The DTU-2231 is being showcased throughout the Esri International User Conference, including Wacom's booth #2713, taking place July 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center. For more information regarding Wacom Technology or the DTU-2231, please visit www.wacomGIS.com.

About Wacom
Founded in 1983, Wacom®'s vision to bring people and technology closer together through natural interface technologies has made it the world's leading manufacturer of digital human interface solutions. Wacom revolutionized the nature of digital input when it introduced its family of interactive pen displays, allowing users to work with a pressure-sensitive pen directly on screen. Today, thousands of GIS, design and other professionals count on Wacom displays to express their creativity with superior control and comfort. Visit www.wacom.com for more information.


Does Apple wield too much power in the technology marketplace?
Technology

To date Apple has displayed a formidable talent for disrupting traditional businesses. With its iPod/iTunes combination of hardware and software, it redefined the online music business – and in the process gave Apple a stranglehold on the distribution channel. By adding movies to the iTunes Store in 2005 it signalled its intention to have a chokehold on that business too.

Then in 2007 it redefined the mobile phone market with the iPhone, which is essentially a powerful, handheld networked computer that also happens to make voice calls. A year later, the real purpose of the iPhone became clear with the launch of the Apps store – which instantly redefined the market for software into an online exchange in which tiny programs sell in huge volumes for relatively little money – with Apple taking a 30% cut of every transaction and approving every single app before it appears on the store.

As a result, Apple has morphed imperceptibly from a small company that made cool computers, but enjoyed minuscule market share, into a global giant. With a market cap of $214bn (£140bn), Apple is now bigger than Google (£118bn) and is rapidly gaining on Microsoft (£170bn). It's as if BMW had overtaken Mercedes and is now threatening Ford.

Yesterday saw the next stage in Apple's march towards global domination as the iPad was delivered to the first US customers. The iPad is like the iPhone on steroids: a powerful, handheld device which gives mobile broadband access to the net and runs any software that Apple allows. And it has a delicious, high-definition screen which promises "immersive" reading and viewing experiences.

With the launch of the iTunes store in 2003, Apple rescued the music business from the consequences of its own folly, not to mention its cluelessness about the net. But salvation came at a price: the record labels effectively surrendered control of the distribution channel.

Now, seven years later, we have another industry in deep trouble – newspapers and magazines – and once again Apple appears to hold out the prospect of a rescue. The iPad is seen by many in the print business as a way of delivering high-value digital content to customers paying real money. But once again, salvation (if that what it turns out to be) will come at a price: Apple will control the distribution channel – and take a slice of every transaction.

So what's the problem? The iPhone and iPad are really just gateways to the internet. Up to now, our gateways have been personal computers which have an open architecture: the user has complete control over what runs on them and can do with them what she or he likes. But the iPhone and iPad are radically different: they are tightly controlled by Apple. Nothing runs on them unless it has been expressly approved by Apple. And if you try to install unapproved stuff on them, you may find that your expensive device has been remotely "bricked".

We already know that iPhone owners use it incessantly as an internet gateway and that they use their PCs less. The iPad is likely to turbocharge this trend. So we could be heading for a time when a significant proportion of internet users will access the network via a gateway controlled by a single powerful, secretive company. And a world in which most online paid-for journalism comes through a channel controlled by that same company.

So if your image of Apple is of a small, cheeky outsider, think again. What was it that Lord Acton said about power...?



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