Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘apple’ Category

Apple’s New Razor Blades

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On today’s Apple marketing-fest, Tim Cook made a big change in the order of business we’ve come to expect of their product launches: He led with the razor blades instead of the razors.

Specifically, he led with Apple’s new gaming subscription service (Apple Arcade, $4.99 monthly, available Sept 19th, 150 countries, 100 new games added to the launch catalog) and its new filmed content subscription service (AppleTV+ content streaming service with first shows arriving Nov 1, over 100 countries at launch, also $4.99/month).

That alone was a statement of strategic focus moving forward. The razors are important, but the razor blades are where the new growth comes from.

So what about the hardware?

About what you’d expect. The Apple iPhone Pro probably stood out most (I don’t need a new Watch, iPad, yadda yadda yadda), if only because the speeds and feeds looked absolutely bionic. Who doesn’t want three cameras to cover all angles and motion of your Friday night beer pong contest?

And slow-motion selfies — don’t forggettt thosseee slowwww mo-shunnnnn selff-eeeeeees.

Today’s launch may have been all about the razor blades. But if you ask me, it’s been a very long time since Apple launched a new and must have razor.

Written by turbotodd

September 10, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Posted in 2019, apple, apple watch, iPhone

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Game of Phones

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Today many eyes will be turned to Cupertino for Apple’s fall launch event.  But one of Apple’s original iPhone telco providers is where the heat is actually getting turned up.

Hedge fund Elliott Management has taken a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T, and is raising questions about the company’s M&A strategy and operational execution. In a letter to the company, Elliott has called for new board members and an assessment as to the capabilities of the existing leadership team, including CEO Randall Stephenson.

According to a report from CNBC, Elliott cited “the company’s history of questionable acquisition decisions, including buying DirecTV and Time Warner…In all, AT&T has spent about $200 billion in recent years on acquisitions.”

DirecTV’s price was $67B, Time Warner $104B, and T-Mobile slipped through Stephenson’s finger even as he has tried to pivot the company towards both a wireless and media company. 

But millions of subscribers have left DirecTV since the deal close in 2015, and as for the Time Warner deal outcome, it’s probably too soon to tell. For a good signal, I would suggest keeping an eye on the quality of the emerging HBO lineup, the TV canary in the proverbial wireless coalmine. 

Written by turbotodd

September 10, 2019 at 9:40 am

Posted in 2019, apple, att, smartphones

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AI Time

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Happy Monday. Reminder that tomorrow’s the big autumn Apple launch event. Keynote starts at 10 a.m. PDT tomorrow and is expected to introduce a range of new products, as well as release info for the company’s various OSes. Oh, and expect a launch date for the Apple Arcade.

Meanwhile, if you’re an AI professor, life has never been so good. A U of Rochester study was conducted that found 153 AI professors in N. American universities left their posts for industry over the past 15 years, with an additional 68 working there while retaining part-time professorial duties.

This has led to graduating students being less likely to build new AI companies, and when they did, attracting smaller amounts of funding. The study argues this AI brain drain could hamper innovation and growth across the economy. Who else is going to teach those self-driving cars to rear-end unsuspecting human drivers??!

A NY Times opinion piece suggests there are larger problems looming on the AI front…namely, that current AI systems don’t grasp basic concepts like time, space and causality. Example they use, via a simple Google search: “Did George Washington own a computer?” None of Google’s first 10 search results gave the correct answer.

I guess asking about the cherry tree is a non starter.

Written by turbotodd

September 9, 2019 at 9:54 am

The New iPhone’s (Almost) Here!

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If you don’t get the headline, go back and watch Steve Martin’s “The Jerk.”  It’ll make you smile on a long Labor (free) Day holiday.

But the new iPhones are apparently almost here. Or at least almost announced.

Tuesday, September 10, 10 AM, Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park Campus in Cupertino.

Macrumors writes the following could be on offer: 

  • Three iPhones, two OLED models in 5.8 and 6.5 inches and on LCD that’s 6.1, and all with camera improvements.
  • 3D Touch goes, haptic feedback makes a resurgence…bilateral wireless charging, bigger batteries, new AMX co-processor and A13 chip.

Likely see a new Apple Watch, new iPad Pros, new 10.2-inch iPad, and a high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Me, I’m still doing well with my dual phone strategy, an iPhone 7+ and a 2008 Nokia E71 that keeps me off-the-grid and that I use mainly for phone calls and texts (which if you’re moving around can admittedly drop the signal). But for $20/month, you can’t beat it (sorry, no data).

My take on the new Apple lineup: The iPhone XR is going to start looking like a fantastic next-gen iPhone for those who don’t aspire to the new 11s. (The retail price of the low-end XR is still $750 on the Apple website, a deal compared to the higher-end Xs and, I would imagine, the 11s). 

Written by turbotodd

August 29, 2019 at 2:12 pm

Posted in 2019, apple, iPhone

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Gaming Apple

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Apple has released an emergency patch for the iPhone. The backstory: iOS 12.4 had an update that reintroduced a bug they had previously fixed, and the world’s hackers clued into an iPhone jailbreak for the first time in years. If you want to keep a tight iPhone ship, download 12.4.1 which re-fixes the bug.

Also on the Apple front, what’s happened since the App Store’s big makeover in 2017? TechCrunch reports that was Apple’s attempt to “shift consumer’s attention away from the Top Charts and more toward editorial content.”

But app devs want to make it to the No. 1 position, and according to new research from Sensor Tower, it has become easier for non-game apps to do so.

Probably, they speculate, because the U.S. market has been saturated top apps like Facebook and Messenger and leaving more room at the top.

For games, in 2016 it only took 118K median downloads to top the charts. This year, it’s required more like 174,000 downloads for a game to reach the top on any given day, 85% more than the 94K installs required for non-game apps.

So maybe build a non-saturated Facebook/Instagram-ish like app that lets you play Asteroids or Defender…?

Written by turbotodd

August 27, 2019 at 9:35 am

Posted in 2019, apple, apps, gaming

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No More Android Dessert

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Bloomberg’s jumped all over Apple’s upcoming new hardware: Pro iPhones, New iPads, a larger MacBook Pro.

Details: a refreshed iPad Pro with upgraded cameras, fasters chips. An entry level iPad with a bigger screen; new Apple Watch revs; first revamp to MBP in 3 years. Updates to AirPods and HomePod. Also Apple TV+ video and Apple Arcade gaming subscription service.

Could be a very long fall keynote.

If you’re an Android, however, no more desserts for you. The Keyword blog announced that the desserts were confusing to worldwide audiences. That’s right, no more gingerbreads, no more eclairs, no more donuts.

The next rev of the Goog’s mobile OS is simply: “Android 10.” Our Lord in AI Heaven, please don’t let Deep Mind have come up with that name.

And back to Chimerica, if you were looking to get in on some Alibaba IPO action, the Chinese-based firm has delayed its Hong Kong listing. And NO, not because the traders couldn’t get to the subway. But YES, because the unrest didn’t exactly present a convenient time for a massive and important stock float.

Check back with your broker in early October.

Written by turbotodd

August 22, 2019 at 9:59 am

Posted in 2019, alibaba, apple, china

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Brave New World

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Happy Monday. Bloomberg is reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook made a “very compelling argument’
that Apple might lose its edge to Samsung because due to tariffs on Chinese goods. 

China’s apparently moving on, with The Verge reporting that Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo are collaborating on an AirDrop-style wireless file transfer protocol that will work between their devices with speeds of up to 20 MB/s. If you will, the Great Wireless Wall of China.

Also news on the crytocurrency front: Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has launched a crypto exchange for trading in bitcoin, ether, and bitcoin cash. And, Accenture is reporting that global fintech investments have dropped as Chinese fundraising has fallen sharply.

The U.S. remains the world’s biggest fintech market with $12.7B in first-half fundraising — such investments in China were at $820M, a huge fall from the $17.7B raised a year earlier.

Why the big drop? Increased U.S. scrutiny of foreign investments in the U.S., restrictions on Chinese firms’ access to U.S. tech, Huawei’s blacklisting, fears of a global recession and declining business capx investment (among others).

It’s a brave (and never boring) new world.

Written by turbotodd

August 19, 2019 at 10:34 am

Posted in 2019, apple, china, fintech

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Growing Wearables

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The wearables market is growing in North America, with Apple Watches continuing to lead the pack in shipments.

According to a report in VentureBeat, research firm Canalys cites in a new report that the market is now segmenting into two sweet spots, $200 to $299, and $400 to $499.

These two together now represent 60% of all shipments, and Apple also sent over 60% of its 4.7M global Apple Watch shipments to North America (a 32% quarter-over-quarter growth).

The $500+ market seems to have contracted significantly, and the $700+ market saw very few shipments.

Notably, Apple’s Airpods and Watches did not get a break in President Trump’s latest tariff reprieve for China (while laptops and cellphones did).

Be smart about what you ask Santa for for Christmas this year!

Written by turbotodd

August 16, 2019 at 9:50 am

The Apple Card

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Today we get to see the beginning of the rollout of Apple’s continued services expansion plan.

Introducing the Apple Card, a new credit card issued in partnership with Goldman Sachs, which goes into a “preview rollout” today and will be available to all iPhone users in the U.S. later in August.

Axios’ rundown on how it works: “At its base level, the Apple Card is an “iPhone-first” MasterCard that can be used anywhere Apple Pay or MasterCard is accepted.”

Though users can get a physical card, the Apple Card is “mobile-first” and customers use an iPhone to sign up for the card, view their transactions and pay their bills.

The physical card has a traditional credit card number on its chip and magnetic stripe, but that number isn’t visible on the card, and customers can provide a different one stored on their iPhone if they need a numeric number to give out.

Apple is saying the card will have no fees including no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no late fees, and it doesn’t boost its interest rate if customers miss a payment.

Apple also indicated it would neither collect nor view anything about where you shopped, what you bought, or how much you paid.

We shall see if you can easily cancel those persnickety app subscriptions! 

Written by turbotodd

August 6, 2019 at 10:38 am

Posted in 2019, apple

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It’s Tariff Time!

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TGIF. It’s a good day to take a quick glance at some key economic fundamentals that could impact the consumer tech landscape.

U.S non-farm payrolls rose by 164K in July, and the jobless rate held steady at 3.7% (near a 50-year low).

Average hourly wages for private-sector workers advanced 3.2% from a year earlier. GDP increased at 2.1% in the second quarter, down from 3.1% in the first.

Manufacturing output has declined since the end of 2018, and an overseas manufacturing decline could hold U.S. growth back.

The U.S.’ largest trading partner is now Mexico, not China — speaking of whom, President Trump hit the Middle Kingdom yesterday with 10% tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods that included consumer products like apparel, toys, and cellphones.

Yes, that means iPhones, too!

Current estimates suggest about a 15% increase on electronics like laptops, smartphones, etc.

They go into effect August 30th, so you have 28 days to shop ’til you drop for any bargains.

Wonder if Gazelle’s traffic is seeing a post-tariff bump!

Written by turbotodd

August 2, 2019 at 11:25 am

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