Probably not a coincidence that this was announced in the middle of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference http://www.digitalwpc.com/Pages/Home.aspx
This will likely be the talk of that conference tomorrow.
What article did you read? I see 4 paragraphs that lay out some facts about the size of MS's workforce and some reports that thousands of them are due to be let go--after pointing out that 30,000 were added recently as part of an acquision. Where is the hyperbole and fact statements?
Most of the watches I own have sapphire crystal faces. It's hardly a stretch to assume that, in addition to serving as touch ID covers, sapphire will be used on the (eventual) "iWatch" (which I hope is called something else). I don't really care is my next iPhone or iPad has a sapphire or gorilla glass or transparently aluminum screen. Scratching has never been a problem on my Apple devices.
You'll get no argument from me about that. My assumption is that Apple will roll out a new iPod touch (with bigger screen, better processor, etc.) and keep this current model around as the low-end/entry point for a while.
This removes any support for the argument that "because of this, there is no way that Apple is going to do 'another' iPod touch refresh in the near future." This change is basically a marketing refresh and the elimination of an odd-ball low-end configuration. It's easier for Apple to make 1 model of iPod touch with 3 different storage options.
Glad I don't like in Illinois. In my state they ask a similar question but there is no suggestion that they verify it. Moreover, we actually get an income tax deduction based on the inferred amount that we spent on sales tax (and I believe if you have document that you spent more than expected, you can claim that higher amount).