Categories
Apple article

Apple Considers Paid Subscription Podcasts?

A slew of recent articles1 claim that Apple is creating a new paid subscription service providing premium podcasts. According to these reports, Apple thinks they need to start shelling out cash for big name podcasts in order to compete with Amazon and Spotify. This is the same Spotify that was recently downgraded from neutral to sell by financial group Citi because Spotify hasn’t seen the kind of returns they would like on the hundreds of millions they spent locking down premium podcast providers such as Gimlet Media, Joe Rogan, and others.

From fortune.com:

Apple has been the dominant distributor of podcasts in the U.S. for more than a decade, offering the programs for free. […] But the company now faces significant competition from two of its biggest rivals: Spotify and Amazon.com Inc.

So let me get this straight, Apple has been offering podcasts for free for almost 20 years and NOW they suddenly face significant competition to their FREE offering?

It’s not crazy that Apple may feel they are leaving money on the table. It’s not uncommon for Apple to discuss ways it could improve growth and it makes sense to explore the idea of bringing in top tier podcasts as an additional draw to Apple Music, but Apple does not care one iota about Spotify’s attempt to monetize podcasts. If anything they chalk it up as a win when people use their hardware more often regardless of the service they are using.

From The Information:

“Apple—long considered the sleeping giant in the podcast space—is waking up. The company, which runs the most widely used podcasting app in the industry, is discussing launching a new subscription service that would charge people to listen to podcasts, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Apple has plenty of “discussions” about all kinds of ideas. Don’t go to print until at least there is a hint that they’ve decided on something.

Here’s my Claim Chowder: There will be no premium podcast subscription service from Apple. If there is any truth to these rumours, it’s about Apple giving a little more love to their Podcast app (which has also been rumoured). If Apple were to offer “high quality”, “paid” podcasts will be tied into users’ existing subscriptions to Apple Music.

1. Apple Is Ready to Invest in Its Own Original Podcasts, Apple Developing Podcast Subscription Service to Better Compete With Spotify, Apple Plans Podcasting Subscription Service in Threat to Spotify, Apple Mulls Podcast Subscription Push Amid Spotify’s Land Grab.

Categories
Apple design

Apple’s New Map, Expansion #10 Canada

I’ve been loving the level of detail in the new Apple Maps rollout and have been waiting for THIS particular update since I first learned that Apple was making these updates. Justin O’Beirne has been documenting the changes from old to new and I particularly love that street view (or as Apple calls it Look Around) has come to Lethbridge.

If you haven’t tried Apple Maps lately because you had a bad taste in your mouth when Google Maps used to be far superior, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s got so much better and with the new maps rolling out, it’s now visually so much nicer to look at too.

If you’re a maps person, don’t miss Justin’s other documentation of Apple Maps updates.

(via Daring Fireball)

Categories
Apple

One More Thing…

Yesterday, Apple held their third major event this fall and it’s the one I’ve been waiting for to FINALLY upgrade Andrea’s eight year old computer. If you haven’t been paying attention, the biggest thing about these new MacBooks is that they are running on Apple Silicon, which reports indicate are both faster and more power efficient than almost every other chip on the market by a huge margin. The M1 chip announced at this event outperforms every Mac ever made in single-core performance.1

The M1 appears to be a reworking of the A14 Bionic and is included in the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13″, and Mac Mini. We decided to go with the MacBook Air because the drawbacks appear to be slim compared with the MacBook Pro. Sure there is no fan which might mean some thermal throttling if things get too hot and no Touch Bar but for the price difference, I think it’s worth it. It ships in 1 to 2 weeks and I think it’s safe to say I’m even more excited than she is. I’m holding out for the MacBook Pro 16″ with Apple Silicon which, Apple says, will arrive within the next two years.

1. Not including truly industry level performance from discrete GPUs on Mac Pros.

Categories
Apple

Apple Q4 2020 Results

The quick take-away from Apple’s Q4 earrings is: record Mac revenue while iPhone revenue is down 20%.

Jason Snell:

Despite the tough iPhone quarter, revenue was a record for the company’s fourth fiscal quarter, at $64.7B. iPhone revenue was $26.8B, down 20% year over year. Mac revenue was $9B, up 29%. iPad revenue was $6.8B, up 46%. Services revenue was $14.5B, up 16%. And Wearables revenue was $7.9B, up 20.8%.

Obviously the huge wave of workers staying home to work during the pandemic has been a boon to Apple’s bottom line. It’s also so interesting to see the huge growth in Apple services — 14 and a half billion is significant by any metric.

John Gruber:

Lastly, it shows how diversified Apple’s financials are getting that iPhone revenue could be down 20 percent year-over-year but the company had record revenue for the quarter overall. A few years ago that was unimaginable.

Check out the charts at Six Colors.

Categories
Apple

Apple Special Event “Hi, Speed”

Today Apple announced four new phones: iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max and a new HomePad Mini.

Updates to iPhone are incremental in nature and can be expected yearly with each new iteration being only slightly faster, more efficient, and more capable. This year’s new set of phones are no exception. Unless you call 50% faster “only slightly”, which is one reason why the title of today’s event is, “Hi, Speed”.

Here are some highlights from today’s event.

iPhone 12

All four versions of the new iPhones contain Apple’s proprietary A14 chip. With circuitry separated by a mere 5 nanometers and 11.8 billion transistors, the performance and efficiency of this chip is the fastest cpu in any smart phone. The only chip even close is last year’s A13 chip.

iPhone 12 Pro back camera

The main reason to want such crazy fast speed is machine learning. It’s the key to computational photography and in turn that’s what makes such great photos from iPhone 12 possible. The iPhone 11 Pro has eight dedicated machine learning cores and this year that number grows to 16. Apple’s new flagship phones are now capable of 11 trillion operations per second up from last year’s paltry 6 trillion.

A14 Bionic is the first 5-nanometer chip in the industry, with advanced components literally atoms wide. Forty percent more transistors rev up speeds while increasing efficiency for great battery life. And a new ISP powers Dolby Vision recording — something no pro movie camera, let alone any other phone, can do.

Also interesting is the inclusion of MagSafe technology for phone charging and accessories. No more worrying about whether your phone is placed on its wireless charging pad correctly because the magnet will straighten itself. I’m also intrigued by the idea of paring down to just the leather wallet attachment shown below with built-in magnetic action.

iPhone 12 MagSafe and wallet

HomePad Mini
Apple HomePod Mini stock photo

It’s been long speculated that Apple needed a HomePod Mini in order to compete in the smart speaker market against lower cost smart speakers from Google and Amazon. It remains to be seen how the sound quality of the HomePod mini stands up to the original but I’ve always wanted to add a second HomePod for the bedroom where the heavy bass isn’t so important, so I’m tempted.

And, as for rumours that the free year of Apple TV+, is going away, it appears to still be on offer that, “For a limited time, eligible customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, or Mac can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free and three months of Apple Arcade for free.”

Here’s Apple’s 51 Second summary of the event:

Categories
Apple

Apple Sets All Time Third Quarter Revenue Record

During Apple’s most recent earnings report call, Tim Cook seemed almost embarrassed to announce that Apple had such record revenue during a worldwide pandemic. But as a shareholder I can’t say I’m disappointed. I’m also excited that they’re once again splitting the stock, this time four to one.

From Apple:

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2020 third quarter ended June 27, 2020. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $59.7 billion, an increase of 11 percent from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.58, up 18 percent. International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Categories
Apple

iPhone SE 2020

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced the second-generation iPhone SE, a powerful new iPhone featuring a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, paired with Touch ID for industry-leading security. iPhone SE comes in a compact design, reinvented from the inside out, and is the most affordable iPhone. The new iPhone SE is powered by the Apple-designed A13 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, to handle the most demanding tasks. iPhone SE also features the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone, which unlocks the benefits of computational photography including Portrait mode, and is designed to withstand the elements with dust and water resistance.

iPhone SE comes in three beautiful colors — black, white and (PRODUCT)RED — and will be available for pre-order beginning Friday, April 17, starting at just $399 (US) [$599 CAD].

“The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price; the new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way — including our best-ever single-camera system for great photos and videos — while still being very affordable,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Except this new iPhone SE doesn’t “improve” on small size when the form factor has moved away from the original 4″ size of the original.

I’m guessing the reason for the larger size is that just as the original SE used the form factor and internal layout of the iPhone 5, the 2020 iteration will do the same with an iPhone 8 layout. There is no ready to implement layout of internal components that includes iPhone XS camera, the iPhone 11 Pro CPU and the battery size of the iPhone 8 (which may be required for that high end A13 Bionic processor… I don’t know) that would fit in the original iPhone SE shell.

Michael Tsai:

“So, this is a better, cheaper iPhone 8, but unlike the original SE it seems unlikely to inspire down-switchers. The wildcard is that, if we all end up wearing face masks for an extended time, Touch ID could end up being more important than any new feature in the forthcoming iPhone 12.”

Categories
Apple

Apple Financial Results – Q1 2020

Last October, when Apple released their forth quarter earnings for 2019 expectations were blown away. As a shareholder of Apple Stock, 2019 was a very good year for APPL.

Here is the press release from Apple’s 1st quarterly results for 2020, which includes links to their data summary. Long story short, it’s another incredible quarter for Apple.

The Company posted quarterly revenue of $91.8 billion, an increase of 9 percent from the year-ago quarter and an all-time record, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $4.99, up 19 percent, also an all-time record. International sales accounted for 61 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“We are thrilled to report Apple’s highest quarterly revenue ever, fueled by strong demand for our iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models, and all-time records for Services and Wearables,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “During the holiday quarter our active installed base of devices grew in each of our geographic segments and has now reached over 1.5 billion. We see this as a powerful testament to the satisfaction, engagement and loyalty of our customers — and a great driver of our growth across the board.”

In summary:

  • iPad unit sales were down 11%
  • Mac unit sales were down 3.5%
  • iPhone unit sales were up about 8% but revenue was up a whopping 29 percent. The iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max continue as unprecedented hits.
  • Services were up 17%.
  • Wearables up an astounding 37%! It’s fairly obvious that AirPods Pro and Apple Watch are growing like crazy. This is anecdotal but when I first bought my watch I very rarely, if ever saw others with them. Now it seems like I see people wearing Apple watches every day.

Most interestingly, Tim Cook finished his introductory speech mentioning the coronavirus and, while being careful to be sensitive to its human cost, touched on how the disease may affect production. Asian suppliers have recently expressed their concerns about keeping up with Apple’s increasing production order while dealing with a disrupted supply chain due to widespread hospitalizations and quarantines.

Jason Snell has posted the complete transcript of the earnings call, as well his always excellent summary and charts.

Categories
advertising Apple

Shot on iPhone 11 Pro Short Movie “Daughter”

The first day they posted it and it has almost half a million views. While I have to admit it’s contrived as a tear-jerker advertisement (for a product that I already bought), but that doesn’t make it any less laudable as a brilliant short film.

Categories
Apple

John Gruber Reviews Apple’s New Air Pods Pro

My old AirPods no longer keep a charge making listening for more than a few minutes (especially from the left “pod”) quite a challenge. As expensive as AirPods are for them to just wear out after a couple of years makes me hesitant to buy another pair, however, going wireless and the convenience of charging in the case still makes them a very compelling purchase.

Apple, of course, just released the newest iteration of the AirPods (Pro!) and while I don’t have any professional use for wireless headphones, I’m intrigued by their noise cancelling ability and again, that small charging case is awesome. I had been considering other options for my next pair of earphones because noise cancelling is a game changer for the annoying engine noise on long flights.

From Daring Fireball:

Noise cancellation worked really well for me. I own a pair of Bose over-the-ear noise canceling wireless headphones, but almost exclusively wear them only on airplanes and trains. Wearing noise-canceling earbuds on the subway and walking through the city is going to take some getting used to. It’s so good you really do lose sense of your surrounding aural environment.

I was a dummy and didn’t take my Bose headphones on my trip today, so I can’t say how they compare side-by-side on the train, but there’s no question how AirPods Pro compare to regular AirPods. The difference is like night and day. Amtrak trains are pretty noisy—especially at what we in the U.S. so adorably consider “high speeds”—but with AirPods Pro the clackety-clack rumble was effectively blocked out.

Apple AirPods Pro in the hands of a customer.

I’m 90% certain I’ll pick up a pair from the Apple Store at El Paseo Village when I’m in California next week.

Update: I got some new AirPod Pros of my own and although at times I feel they are uncomfortable after using them for a long time — (which earbuds aren’t?) — I love the noise cancellation and would recommend them to anyone looking for a new set of headphones.